(195) Start a Golf Academy
The Golf Academy of America estimates that the golf industry represents $76 billion each year, offering more than 2 million jobs. However, IBIS World reports in 2010 that the golf course and country club industry is expected to lose $430 million thanks to unemployment challenges, maintenance costs and a dip in golf participating since 2008. Golf course owners can combat low sales with ideas for stimulating business.
Mobile Miniature Golf
Spread the word about your golf course by marketing with a mobile miniature golf unit. Set up small just-for-fun courses in business areas, shopping malls and upscale parking lots, allowing potential customers to putt for free after they sign up for services, memberships or lessons offered by your golf establishment. This is a great opportunity to talk shop with veteran golfers, swap business cards, offer consultations on golf equipment and invite people to check out your course.
One business idea for golf courses it to distinguish yourself from the competition by going green. Use organic treatments to maintain golf course grounds, such as commercial or in-house compost to prevent the topsoil damage that can occur through traditional manicuring. Partnering with area universities on sustainability projects at your course can be valuable in terms of marketing and building new client rosters.
Increase business at your golf course by creating better relationships between your golf instructors and current or potential clients. Offer in-home consultations for golf swing and stance, broadcast free online golf instruction tips from your business website or offer special golfing workshops on the course outside peak business hours. Increased contact between instructors and clients may lead to more visits to the golf course.
Another business idea for golf courses is to offer in-house membership loyalty clubs for frequent visitors. While third-party discounting operations encourage clients to shop around different golf courses looking for cheap deals, in-house programs allow you to directly reward clients for return visits. Reward cards allow customers to purchase rounds of golf at increasingly discounted prices when purchased in bulk. These may begin to sell themselves as members bring guests to the course and discuss how they save through the cards.
Golf courses can attract new visitors through community events such as blood drives. Invite reputable organizations to set up blood banks at the golf course clubhouse, offering vouchers for free or discounted rounds to donors. Offer tours of the golf course and a welcome buffet table with fresh fruit or samples of popular clubhouse menu items.
Golf is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and golf courses have been popping up all over, with more then 16,000 courses in the United States alone. American golfers spend more than $15 billion per year on course fees, clubs and other merchandise, making a functioning golf course a possibly lucrative business opportunity. Yet starting a golf course takes a lot of time, money and care before it begins to really pay off. However, for those passionate about the sport of golf, it can be an incredibly rewarding business venture, both monetarily and personally.
Before raising money, buying land or really investing in your own golf course, put together a business plan which will assess all the advantages and possible pitfalls. This will help you find out how much it is going to cost, how much money you will make back and how to target clients while warding off competitors. This type of planning also helps to preemptively stop problems and hazards in the future.
Build your golf course in a good location. Technically all you need is enough land to allow for 18 holes to be constructed, but how can your golf course stand out from the other thousands of golf courses around the country? Can it be built in a unique area, overlooking a city or the ocean? Should it be built in a place where there currently are no golf courses? This should all be taken into account when buying land.
Hire a golf course architectural firm or landscapers who have designed golf courses previously and know what they are doing. Golf courses shouldn't be terribly challenging but shouldn't be easy, either. They should offer a unique challenge for those playing the course and reveal beautiful scenery of the land itself, in hopes of rebuking the "good walk spoiled" for so-so golfers.
Invest in manpower and equipment to run the golf course. After construction, it is going to take some time for the grass to grow properly. And once the golf course has opened, it is a full-time, multi-person job to ensure the grass continues to grow and prosper so that it doesn't die.
Maintain the course and hold tournaments so you attract more people and can build a clientele. With a fun and beautiful course, golfers in the area will be sure to come back as long as they have a good experience. Time and money will need to be invested initially, but creating this experience for your golfers will pay off in the end.
How to Build a Golf Course for Profit
All roads lead to making a profit, and setting out to build a golf course is no exception. Unless the golf course of your dreams will eventually pay for itself in user fees, concession profits and other income sources, then the project is doomed from the start. With the cost of building even the most basic 18-hole course running easily over 2 million dollars from start to finish, it's good idea to have an idea of what it encompasses. There are many pitfalls you will need to overcome on the way to profitability. Here are just a few way to deal with them on your journey to build a golf course for profit.
Do your research. Let's say you have your eye on a piece of property. Your first step is to determine if that is the best place to build your course. Factor in whether the area needs another golf course. Find out if others have failed, and why that happened. Are there enough golfers in the area, with sufficient income, for you to make your course profitable. Is there a lot of competition for the type of people you will hire that makes them unaffordable? As for the land you have chosen, you need to take into consideration available water, type of soil, natural drainage, and restrictions that have been imposed regarding the protection of wildlife, just to mention a few.
Choose a golf course architect. He will be responsible for many aspects of the project and will need to be adept in numerous fields including landscape architecture, civil engineering, planning, specification design and costing. Building a golf course is much more than simply rearranging some dirt. The golf architect you choose will be in charge of ever aspect that will affect whether golfers flock to your course or go elsewhere.
Have every permit in hand before you turn the first spade of dirt. Also, without the support of your golf course project by the local community, you'll find it difficult to turn a profit. Discuss your plans with the local mayor or city council and try to gain their endorsement. Once you have received approval from the “city fathers” and you have all your permits in hand, you're ready to build.
Hire a golf course contractor. This is a very specialized area that demands your full attention. The Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA) is a trade group whose members specialize in the building of golf courses. They stay current on all the changing regulations, and can add improvements to your design (see Resources below).
Determine how best to finance your new golf course. Going in, it will be helpful if you or your financial backers have experience with large projects. You or they will understand the benefit of creating a positive cash flow before you pursue permanent financing.
How to ConstHruct a Golf Course
Building a golf course is, needless to say, a costly and complex undertaking. It's also a long process and often has a political component. The acquisition of large tracts of land, usually in or near populated areas, can be a sticky proposition. Despite the numerous pitfalls in planning and building a golf course, if you've got the money and the vision, it certainly can be done. There are nearly 20,000 courses in the U.S., so someone is building them. Perhaps the most important step in the process is the initial one--determining the feasibility of your vision.
Perform a feasibility study. You'll have to determine whether it'll be a private or public course, and take into account such factors as location, population near the course, financing, other courses in the area, taxes and area demographics--people near your course need to be able to pay to play.
Choose a designer or architect, unless you're going to design the course yourself. Anyone is allowed to design courses, but most courses are designed by members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA). Choosing a seasoned designer can save a lot of headaches. They're experienced in myriad disciplines--landscape architecture, hydraulic engineering and a host of other factors that will come into play. Of course, you can hire Jack Nicklaus for a fee of about $2.5 million.
Choose a site. You've got to consider what land is available (and whether it suits your design), cost, accessibility, soil factors, political concerns and existing infrastructure. You'll need 150 to 200 acres for an 18-hole course. You also need to decide if you want your course isolated or close to an urban center. An isolated course is basically a vacation destination, and you'll need to consider making it a resort with room accommodations. Also, the issue of housing abutting your course is a key.
Secure financing. Assuming you're not paying the entire cost of the project yourself, you'll need to convince a financial institution that you've got a good idea. Depending on your design and location, a golf course costs anywhere from $50,000 to $175,000 per hole to construct.
Hire an attorney to handle all legal matters, such as the land acquisition, taxes, zoning and environmental matters, and contracts.
Hire a project manager to oversee such sundry matters as land development, construction and design details, and public relations. He also should be versed in political matters, such as appearing before government bodies to present details of the project.
Commence initial, basic land development, like clearing trees, moving and digging earth, and installing irrigation systems. All this must be done, of course, with the course design in mind, such as green placements, fairway lengths, cart paths, bunkers and water hazards.
Construct any buildings that might be in your plans, including maintenance buildings and, of course, a clubhouse. A resort course would include hotel accommodations, but that would be an entirely different project and cost.
Finish the course with installation of all sod, greens, bunker sand, water, and flower and shrubbery landscaping. Hiring a dependable maintenance crew also is paramount. After the actual cost of building the course, maintenance will be your biggest annual cost.