Old Marsh
July 2017 Industry Report

Many private golf clubs, sensing the market has stabilized and started to strengthen, are investing in new multi-million-dollar capital projects. Nowhere is this more evident than along the I-95 corridor from Jupiter to Miami. I estimate private clubs in the 90-mile radius have completed or committed to $350 million in new/renovated/expanded member amenities.


The marketing slogan for KIND fruit and nut bars is “Ingredients You Can See and Pronounce.”


I think the slogan is relevant for announcing new capital projects. There are two categories of club investments, those that you can “see with your eyes,” and those “behind the walls.”


If your capital projects involve a new roof, kitchen equipment, or golf course irrigation system, be cautious on how loudly you promote the improvements. Prospects and existing members will find it hard to get excited over a new central air conditioning system. If you over-hype the improvements, it may actually backfire.


However, if the project is something you can “see and touch,” work hard to promote how your club is able to complete capital projects. It is a vote of confidence in your fiscal stability.


Creating Experiential Moments

Disney is one of the strongest brands in corporate America. If you critically judge its theme parks, I think you would agree with my summary. Their rides, value proposition, food options, and location (Anaheim is unexciting and Orlando’s weather and bugs are less than ideal during certain months) aren’t tops. Competitors beat Disney in specific categories, but when evaluating the totality of the experience, Disney is the clear winner.


It’s likely your club or resort isn’t the best in all categories. If it is, you fall in the 1% category or you are close-minded to the threat competitors pose. I suggest you create a checklist and objectively rate 10 categories of you versus peers. Have each category be worth a maximum of 10 points. Total your score versus competitors. If you score an 88 and a competitor scores 91, critique where your weaknesses are to quickly eliminate the deficit.


Social media has created a shift in the value of physical versus experiential. Your competitors may have a better golf course or location, something that no matter the budget, can change. So, focus your energy on soft programming, your social calendar, and service standards. It may allow you to level the playing field in short order with a minimal dollar outlay.


Best Ideas of the Month

Have you ever calculated your sales per square foot in the clubhouse? Apple generates over $4,700 per square foot on an annualized basis (best in retail), while Macy’s generates $160 – $200 per square foot (more typical of a department store).


Formal clubhouse boardrooms are underutilized space. Old Marsh Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida just opened their new clubhouse and reinvented the boardroom. It now is adjacent to the bar, with a sliding door, that can create necessary privacy. The highly multi-use space is now ideal for meetings, private dinners, and parties – with the potential to increase revenue.



Another creative idea comes from the Spa at Mukul Resort in Nicaragua. All spas require patrons to fill out a healthy history form before treatment. Often this is done in the waiting room before being escorted to your treatment, creating a formal, doctor visit first impression. At Mukul’s Spa, you enter your personal information while your therapist washes and massages your feet in a large copper bowl. The relaxing environment allows you to connect with your masseuse before treatment.



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