Lots and lots of fresh air. A great way to get out of the house. Exercise, relaxation, all while keeping your distance from others.
If that sounds like an appealing way to pass the time right now, you’re not alone. Golf is booming; the fairways have never looked greener. And with audience emotions running hot towards a game that has actually been on the decline for years, brands need to act fast if they seek to bolster loyalty and evolve the upticks seen this summer into longer-term trends.
“People are itching to get outside,” remarks Stuart Lindsay, a principal with Edgehill Golf Advisors. “They can’t go to a bar. They can’t go to a restaurant. They can’t play softball. Golf is one of the few things they can do that’s a variation of riding a bike or walking the dog.”
Many courses across the country are noting performance that is roundly outpacing past seasons. “Our rounds are through the roof,” said David Pillsbury, the chief executive of ClubCorp. “It’s up 25 to 30 percent over the prior year. Our members are using the club more than they’ve ever used it before.”
Data collated from between April 23 and May 5 of this year reveals that the number of rounds sold online at public courses that remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic were up 60 percent over the previous year, according to GolfNow: “There’s just a massive amount of demand,” says Jeff Foster, GolfNow Senior Vice President. “The big question is will that demand stay.”
Brands are working hard on strategies to maintain this renewed appeal. Loyalty tactics from outright rewards programs to more nuanced approaches that capitalize psychological, demographic, and value-chain factors are becoming prevalent across the industry.
Choice Privileges Lets You Choose Golf With “Golf By Choice”
Established a few weeks before the grip of the pandemic truly took hold, the timing of Choice Privileges’ golf-centered offering and ultimate program success will center on a confluence of marketing factors; on one hand, the uptick of golf demand, and on the other, the general reduction in travel purchases and expenditures. But the golf loyalty program itself, Golf By Choice, is the first of its kind in the hospitality industry — not only giving members exclusive access to deals on top-rated golf apparel and equipment, but also allowing points exchange when booking tee times at a selection of golf courses across the country. Further benefits include:
Points towards golf gear – Members can access great deals on golf merchandise, ranging from clubs to apparel from brands such as TaylorMade, Callaway, Nike, Puma and Cleveland, and redeem their points to shop. Members can also earn points for every dollar they spend on cash purchases.
Rewards at tee time – Members can earn and redeem loyalty points to book tee times on many national courses, while gaining access to exclusive deals.
Points through golf apps – Members will earn further points when they download select apps.
Extra perks for Elite members – Elite loyalty members will earn up to 20% more bonus points on golf related purchases.
TravisMathews Flashes Style With “TM Rewards”
Injecting a little class back into a game that highlights unique fashion expressions perhaps more than other sport, fashion brand Travis is doubling down on customer incentivization with a loyalty rewards program on their full line up — including golf apparel like shirts, shoes, and accessories. The tiered program offers 5 points for every dollar spent, redeemable for discounts, first access passes to new products and sales, exclusive offers and free gifts. Sign up is free, automatically enrolling customers into plus status and earning them free shipping and returns. At the $500 threshold, customers are moved into the preferred tier, entitling them to a free hat each year. And at the $1,000 mark, the executive tier is unlocked, granting free alterations to all gear purchased in-store.
PGA Tour Superstore Models Experiential Retail
Not all golf is played out on the course. In 2018, 24.2 million Americans age six and up played on a golf course, while another 9.3 million participated exclusively in off-course golf activities at places like driving ranges, indoor golf simulators or golf entertainment venues, according to the National Golf Foundation.
PGA Tour Superstore not only acknowledges the diverse consumption patterns of its customers, but it highlights these entertainment factors by adorning its brick-and-mortar locations with multi-tiered, interactive features, including state-of-the-art swing simulators, practice hitting bays, and large indoor putting greens.
“We have a lot of activity-based areas in our store,” says Randy Peitsch, SVP, Operations, for PGA TOUR Superstore. “We have disproportionate amounts of putting greens, for example. So if you're not a great golfer, most people that can walk in can pick up a putter and roll putts. So we like to see activity areas be a little bit larger and a little bit more front and center to our store, as opposed to just cramming merchandise right in front of them as soon as they walk in the door.”
The model is working well for the company, which is demonstrating 46% growth, 22% comp sales growth, and 91% e-commerce comp sales growth since 2017.