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May 2019

Two Operators, Two Questions: Hot weather solutions

By Steve Eubanks

Filippa McDougall
Director of Golf
Wildfire Golf Club, J.W. Marriott
Phoenix, Arizona

Casey Mitchell
Director of Golf
Sandhill Crane Golf Club
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

 

How do you program to maximize revenues on repressively hot days?

McDougall:  We treat twilight and late afternoon with a different mindset with our customers. We say to them: “Look, you might not go out until the sun gets a little lower in the sky, so enjoy your time out there without thinking in terms of a complete round. Think about the experience. We tell them, “enjoy nine holes or 12 holes as the sun is setting. Don’t forget to look around and don’t rush because you’re trying to get in a quick 18.’”

Mitchell:  We have a lot of rain in the summer afternoons, storms almost every afternoon actually. But by 5:00, they have usually blown through and it’s steamy, but the sun is out. So that’s when we schedule our leagues. We block off the tee sheet from about 3:00, which isn’t a problem when it’s raining, and we send the league players out in a modified shotgun at 5:00 for nine holes.
What we’ve also learned, and what differentiates us in this area, is we give a rain check based on the number of holes you played. So, if you go out at 3:30 and get in four holes before it starts raining, we give you a credit for 14 holes. That credit is associated with your name and you can redeem it the next time you come out.

What have you learned from your customers about afternoon play and what adjustments have you made because of what you’ve learned? 

McDougall: We’ve adapted quite a bit based on what our guests have told us. We know what sort of food and beverage service they like later in the day and how we can accommodate them in terms of pricing. We have been very adaptive, almost to the point of being completely dynamic, in our afternoon pricing based solely on consumer feedback and what else is going on at clubs in our area.”

Mitchell: We’ve learned that when the storms come people don’t really want to go home. So we now have a performance center with Trackman simulators and a Sam putting lab. Our league players love going in there and playing simulator matches on other golf courses while it’s raining. They have tables and televisions and play complete matches on the simulators. It’s a high-tech world now. Weather doesn’t hold people back anymore.

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