A Marketing Manual for the Golf Course Owner Prepared by Kathy O’Neal Vice President of Membership and Market Research Club Corporation of America Published by: National Golf Course Owners Association 291 Seven Farms Drive• Charleston, SC 29492 Phone: 843-881-9956• Fax: 843-881-9958 Email: [email protected] • Website: ©2008 National Golf Course Owners Association All rights reserved

A golf course developer generally begins the development venture with a promising piece of acreage and visions of a future prosperous golf operation. Those who made their visions a reality will credit much of their success to the effective management of their marketing and sales efforts. Academicians clearly differentiate between the marketing and sales functions. Philip Kotler of Northwestern University, author of Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control, says,
“Marketers are involved with the whole process, from identifying market needs and wants, targeting market segments, producing attractive and satisfying offerings, and winning local customers. Salespeople think more short term, are involved in face to face selling with the customers and their primary objective is to meet the sales quota for that period.” 

Whereas most large corporations have the luxury of separate marketing and sales executives, the golf course owner must often play the role of both the marketer and salesperson for the golf course. Regardless of whether they are wearing the hat of the marketer or the salesperson, they will need to incorporate these principal components in their marketing and sales process:

  • Basic market research 
  • Identifying target markets 
  • Positioning and pricing the offering
  • Determining the most effective and affordable means of communicating to that target audience
  • Devising a marketing plan
  • Implementing and tracking the effectiveness of the marketing plan. This manual is intended to guide the golf course owner through that entire process and includes the following:
  • The Essential First Step - Market Research This section provides the theory and simple “how-to’s” of the market research that should be done prior to the development of a golf course and on an ongoing basis once the course becomes operational. This research will be instrumental in making decisions on the overall concept and marketing plan for the golf course.
  • Putting Research Into Action Once the market research has been analyzed and the target markets identified, the golf course owner must decide on the most effective and affordable means of reaching that audience. Media options are presented in this section and the “pro’s and con’s” of each are discussed including newspaper, yellow pages, cable, outdoor, and others. This section also includes detailed information about implementation of a public relations campaign, including special promotions, press releases, press kits, and fact sheets. Also, included in this section is the most recent survey done by the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA), which researched the percentage of revenues golf course owners spent on various advertising functions. 
  • Important Marketing Narratives for the Golf Course Owner This final section includes four case studies: a detailed marketing and public relations campaign proposed by an advertising agency for an 18 hole golf course, a case study of a very successful 18 hole course using marketing methods very effectively, a narrative which details how a potential new golf course owner can position a golf course to maximize revenue potential and best serve the market identified, and a case study containing several examples of successful marketing and promotions activities implemented by golf course owners. It is the intent and hope of the National Golf Course Owners Association that those who read this manual will not only find the material informative, but instrumental in making their visions of a profitable and prosperous golf course a reality
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