By David Gould, Staff Editor
Change and innovation has been on the rise in golf course management, including an approach called “Practice, Learn, Play,” developed by Advance Golf Partners, which owns and operates a dozen or so golf clubs from Dallas to south Florida and consults to hundreds more. Credited with delivering bottom-line improvements of up to $500,000 to facilities that adopt it, PLP is a by-the-month subscription program aimed at non-core golfers—and it elevates the role of the golf instructor at every club where it’s used.
Recently the potential for PLP-driven management to become widespread increased notably, when Advance Golf entered into a promising partnership with the golf software company Find A Game. Under the agreement, Find A Game approaches public courses with two key benefits, access to Find a Game’s extensive database of app-using golfers, plus management software that enables the course to engage with those golfers and present them with enticing offers. What’s more, the golfers who use Find A Game’s app are already engaging with each other around one topic—setting up rounds of golf.
Terminology matters, when you study this business model—the terms “subscription,” or “subscription membership” are used to draw a distinction with traditional memberships. A monthly fee of (usually) $49.95 gets paid to the golf course (with percentages going to Advance Golf / Find A Game) via recurring credit-card charges, for which the golfer paying it receives three basic benefits: complimentary range balls at all times, complimentary slots in golf clinics, as many as four per week, and golf at off-peak times for “access fee” only. It’s a matter of taking historically underutilized golf course assets and bundling them into an affordable, monthly subscription membership,” as the marketing materials explain it.
When a golf facility signs up with Find A Game, they are able not only to digitally market to golfers in seamless fashion, they also get software that tracks all the PLP-related activity. From the golf instructor’s point of view, it would be important to know whether, and to what degree, the facility manager adopting PLP was intending to provide compensation for running the clinics. Meanwhile, as a feeder program for the coach’s private-lesson business, this model holds out plenty of potential.
Looked at from a long-range perspective, it’s another indicator that people who sell green fees, cart fees and grillroom lunches are viewing golf instruction as a significant, ongoing tool for attracting and retaining non-core golfers and, one day, upgrading them to core status. Look for Proponent Group to continue studying the “PLP movement,” always with an eye toward how it can benefit our members and the instruction segment of the industry overall.