How to Run a Golf Course: 18 Golf Course Management Tips

How-to Guides
Woman hits a drive on a pretty golf course

While many golf courses had to shut down temporarily in the spring of 2020, most have come back stronger than ever due to the increased demand for outdoor activities. With some simple adjustments to protect against the spread of COVID, golf courses across the country are thriving.

But managing a golf course is a monumental task. Online booking, event management, retail inventory, dining, mobile orders, course maintenance, and staff management make it a major operation. It’s important that you prioritize which parts of your operation that you want to improve and take it step-by-step. Remember that major changes cannot be done overnight and will take time and hard work.

So take a look at these golf course management tips and learn how to run a successful golf course in 2020 and beyond.

1. Offer Online Tee Time Booking

Online tee time booking is more important than ever. The vast majority of golfers prefer to book online, and it saves your clubhouse and pro shop attendants time on the phone. A great online booking system will be more convenient for both you and your players.

With an integrated online booking system, every aspect your golf course operations will be kept under a single system. Modern event management software will allow you to customize the booking process, and all reservations made online will be updated for on-site users.

2. Look at Third-Party Booking Outlets

While it’s always better that guests book their tee times on your proprietary booking system, most courses will also use third-party booking sites. While these sites charge golf courses a percentage of each booking fee, they greatly increase your online presence.

Likely, when a golfer enters a query for “tee time,” “golf near me,” or something related, their top results will all be third-party reservation systems. For better or worse, it’s how most bookings are made, and important for local courses to adopt, even though it comes with a fee.

3. Offer Varying Golf Course Membership Options

Most public golf courses offer players some sort of membership program, like bundled deals, unlimited golf, discounted rounds, free range balls, or seasonal play.

Whatever you decide on, come up with a variety of options to satisfy the wishes of different demographics of players. Not every player will need an unlimited pass, for instance. And for some courses, unlimited passes won’t be a smart idea. Figure out what makes financial sense for your business and what your customers want, and offer a few choices.

4. Add a Loyalty Program

Most courses offer golfers some sort of membership options, but you might also consider a traditional loyalty system, too. These can be redeemed for clubhouse, pro shop, beverage cart, driving range, or dining purchases made. People like being rewarded; even a simple customer loyalty program will make a big difference.

5. Use POS Reporting and Analytics

For any changes you make to your pricing, memberships, online booking, etc., make sure you’re measuring the progress with your golf course POS systems. In-depth reporting and analytics will provide more insight into your operation so you can make smarter business decisions.

Continually measure such data over time, even if you feel confident that something is working. Demand and sales can change over time without causing much alarm. Rely on a great point of sale to make this easy for you.

6. Automate Ordering and Inventory

Likewise, your golf course software can take care of the retail, QSR, and dining parts of your operations. With vendor management, smart inventory, and automation, you can be confident that you’ll always have everything you need. Just as important, it will also ensure that it’s done quickly and efficiently, saving you and your team a whole lot of time.

Complimentary Download

Learn how to manage your inventory effectively with this free eGuide.

7. Host Golf Events and Contests

Golf courses make a large portion of their revenue from events, tournaments, and contests. Spend time with your team organizing various events throughout the year. Market your business for charity events, marriages, corporate outings, and local tournaments.

Such events aren’t just immediate money-makers; they also lead to future sales and increase the awareness of your course.

8. Add Time-Based Discounts

Time-based discounts are critical for golf courses. Rates often change throughout the day, with early bird and twilight rates occurring daily. Plus, seasonal rate changes are common. Getting software that makes this easy is important. With KORONA POS, you can even add additional discounts to receipts for repeat rounds or back-to-back days.

Plus, pricing changes by demographic are also simple. Set special group or age rates, too.

9. Offer First-Time Golfer Promos

Adding promotions to your system through the back-end of the software is simple. Changes made by managers or owners are immediately reflected in the front-end of the system for your cashiers or at your eCommerce site.

One common promotion is to offer a slight discount for first-time players. It’s a great way to show golfers your course and get them coming back more often down the road.

10. Run Seasonal Promotions

Seasonal promos are another way to fill your books throughout the year. Depending on your location, you may be able to stay open year-round, but even then, there will be ebbs and flows throughout the calendar year. Structure seasonal discounts to encourage people to come out even when it’s getting a little hot, cold, or rainy.

11. Build SMS Marketing

Text-based marketing is becoming more and more common. Use it to market new amenities, discounts, events, or retail products. You can even attach QR codes through text links that customers can redeem on location.

12. Up Your Social Media Game

Social media is vital for any business, but particularly for golf courses. Show off your new clubhouse, redesigned greens, or perfect maintenance. Golf courses can also allow booking on social media platforms so users can reserve a tee time in a variety of convenient ways.

Make sure your course is on all major platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and Google – plus any more niche verticals, like Golf Advisor and Greenskeeper.

13. Improve Online Review Presence

In addition to your social media accounts, managing your online reviews is even more critical. More and more consumers are relying on online reviews to make purchase decisions. This is certainly the case for golfers.

Encourage players to add a review to one or multiple review sites. Photos and videos make it even better.

13. Make Your Website Pretty

You want to encourage players to reserve tee times online, so make sure your website is easy to use and nice to look at. Redesign the site with updated photos or your facilities and course. If possible, add flyover videos of each hole so your golfers can get an idea of your course beforehand.

Add local SEO targeting and Google Maps marketing, too. You want your name to come up when someone searches for golf courses in the area. Add a small blog to boost your ranking.

14. Automate Your Driving Range

In the wake of COVID, it’s more important than ever to reduce hand-to-hand interactions and allow golfers to purchase and collect range balls on their own. Self-checkout kiosks make automated dispensing simple.

15. Improve Your Food and Drink Menu

Most golfers aren’t just there for the golf. The ol’ 19th hole is half the fun. So spend some time improving your kitchen and draft list to improve the customer experience from the first tee to after the round. Add options for on-course ordering so golfers aren’t waiting too long once their round is finished.

16. Install Smart Tech in Golf Carts

Sprucing up your cart game is a great way to improve the golfing experience. New players can have a better idea of the course layout and will be more likely to come back if it helps them have a successful round. It’s a big investment but will add a lot to your business.

17. Develop a Simple App

A smaller tech investment is creating a simple proprietary mobile application. Many golf courses are adding their own branded app that regular golfers can use for making tee times, ordering food, checking in, and more. It adds to your overall branding and encourages players to book through you again instead of third-party websites or apps.

18. Update Your Pro Shop

Just like your dining and bar areas, make sure your pro shop is up to par with the rest of your facilities and course. Pro shops are a great way to make some extra revenue through retail sales. Add a small putting green or virtual driving range so players can test out clubs.

To learn more about how KORONA POS can help manage your golf course and membership program, click below to get started with your free trial.

Photo of author

Written By

Michael Chalberg

Michael has long focused his writing on the world of retail and small businesses. He''s been a part of the KORONA POS team since 2018 and loves helping entrepreneurs find ways to adapt and succeed. In his spare time, you'll likely find him hiking somewhere in the Southwest.