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Alternative Facilities “Communication and Relationships” Moderator: Steven J. di Costanzo, President Golf Range Association of America (GRAA) Presenters: Mark Silverman, Editor-in-Chief, GOLF RANGE MAGAZINE;

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Alternative Facilities

“Communication and Relationships”

Moderator: Steven J. di Costanzo, President

Golf Range Association of America (GRAA)

Presenters: Mark Silverman, Editor-in-Chief, GOLF RANGE MAGAZINE;

Executive VP, Golf Range Association of America “Best Practices in the Alternative Facilities Industry”

Sue Puetz, Owner

Sundance Golf Course and Learning Center

“Profile: The Sundance Golf Story”


The Golf Industry Needs to Place More Focus on Alternative Facilities

          • Stand-alone Golf Ranges
          • On-Course Ranges
          • Par 3 Courses
          • Executive Courses
          • Pitch and Putt
          • Golf Dome/Indoor

Importance of Alternative Facilities to the Golf Industry

          • New Player Development
          • Junior Golf Programs
          • Pro Shop Retailing
          • Women-Specific Programs

Closter Golf Range

Closter, New Jersey


Sundance Golf Course & Practice Facility

New Braunfels, Texas

“Drive, Chip and Putt”


Alternative Golf Facilities in the U.S.

Breakdown by Type







How Many People Use Alternative Facilities in the U.S.?

27.8 million golfers visit a golf range

4.9 million golfers are “range only” players

1.7 million are “Alternative Facility only” players


Alternative Facilities Task Force

Why: The “mainstream” golf industry has done a poor job of embracing

alternative facilities as a significant component of the golf industry. We believe strongly that alternative facilities can play a very significant role in the future of the game.

When: April 2002. The inaugural Alternative Facilities Task Force meeting in New Jersey organized by GOLF 20/20 and the Golf Range Association of America (GRAA).

Who: 12 members attended. Stand-alone golf range owners, range owners with short courses; and members from the PGA, NGF, The First Tee, GRAA and NGCOA.


Initial Goals of the Alternative Facilities Task Force

1) The need to bring alternative facilities into the mainstream of the golf industry. Better communication.

2) The need to identify “BEST PRACTICES” from this industry: Player development, Youth Programs, Relationships with Traditional Facilities.

3) Disseminate these “BEST PRACTICES”through GOLF20/ and other web sites.


Workshop Objectives:

  • Alternative Facilities
  • 1) Look at the results from the “Best Practices” research project. Determine direction.
  • 2) Examine a “Success Story”: Lessons to be learned from Sundance Golf Course and Learning Center.
  • Generate Ideas for Symbiotic Relationships between Traditional and Alternative Facilities. • Co-Marketing programs • Focus on the family market

“Best Practices at

Alternative Facilities”

Presented by Mark Silverman



“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”





“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”


I. Recruitment of Juniors

II. Content of Clinics, Camps and Lessons

III. Costs and Student/Teacher Ratios


“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • How are Juniors Recruited? What Alliances are Helpful?
    • Local high school and college golf teams; school Intramural competitions.
    • YMCA “Smart Start” program.
    • Park & Recreation Departments Programs are highlighted in Park & Rec brochures.
    • “Youth Programs” ie. The Rainbow Program that offers free clubs and instruction for juniors who otherwise would not be exposed to golf. Typical clinics have between 80 and 120 juniors.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • JUNIOR PROGRAMS - continued
  • Boy Scout troops looking for troop events, or to earn merit badges
  • Hook-a-Kid on Golf programs
  • Boys & Girls Clubs: Partnerships between Alternative Facilities with USGA grants
  • Special Olympics involvement
  • LPGA / USGA Girls Golf, a program in cooperation with the Girl Scouts.40 young women ages 7-17 that meet for 12 weeks on Saturdays for 1 1/2 hours. Tournaments between different Girl Scout chapters.
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes: special summer clinics
  • After-School Programs at Elementary, Middle School and High School levels

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • JUNIOR PROGRAMS - continued
  • Golf professional programs introducing golf at Middle School PE programs (Georgia Junior Golf Association funded by a USGA grant)
  • “JUNIORFEST”: Benefit held every summer for children with cancer (Candlelighters-Childhood Cancer Foundation). Skill events and fun competitions held on the par 3 course, miniature golf course, golf range and baseball batting cages. Junior 2-person scramble on the miniature golf course.
  • Free One-Day Junior Lessons: offered twice in the summer

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • II. Content of Clinics, Camps and Lessons
    • Set up “Golf Games” such as chipping and putting games. Junior golfer who lags the most putts wins golf prize or soft drink.
    • Junior Golf Clinics: Holiday camps during the summer, Christmas week, President’s week, Spring vacation.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

    • Junior demo clubs for your junior golfers
    • Strong use of “Rules and Etiquette” videos
    • Stress “Fun & Fundamentals”
    • Team play concept with an Alternate Shot league (ages 10 and older)
    • Free tee line tips from the pro to beginning golfers who are practicing with their family
    • Combine fundamentals with games and activities. Take frequent breaks and move from station to station to keep interest level high and boredom low.
    • Set up obstacle course where kids go from station to station and test their skills as well as their pace of play

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • III. Costs and Student/Teacher Ratios
    • Year-long Saturday morning, one-hour clinics (6-17 years of age) that repeat every five weeks. Each week covers a different topic(irons, woods, putting, chipping) $15 per session/ 5 sessions for $60
    • Monday-Thursday Camps in summer: 2 hours each day. Playing lesson on the last day.
    • Hook-a-Kid on Golf Tee Level (ages 8-15). Week long program with 15 hours of instruction
    • The First Tee Program

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • JUNIOR PROGRAMS - continued
    • “Linkster” class for kids ages 4-5
    • “Little Foxes” (Blue Fox Run Golf Course) Kids 6 and under,once a week 9 am-11 am.
    • Junior league in the summer: 120 kids playing on a weekly basis
    • Parks & Rec Camp at a 10:1 student: teacher ratio
    • 30 minute private lessons for $30 (ages 17 and under)
    • “Lesson & Play”: Aimed at small groups of 5-8 juniors. After each of the four weekly one-hour lessons, juniors play 9 hole par-3. $65 per golfer
    • 75 minute group lesson for 5-8 junior golfers looking for affordable instruction with some individual attention. $15 per golfer

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • JUNIOR PROGRAMS - continued
    • Junior Golf Camp: Run over Spring Break and every week in summer (Monday-Friday, 9 am-11 am). Pros hold putting and chipping contestsplus a quick round on the 3 practice holes at the facility.Cost: $125 per week.
    • Nike Golf Camp
    • Junior Camp for kids age 11-17. 6:1 student:teacher ratio

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

          • Adult Beginners
          • Women-Specific Programs

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • I. Adult Beginners
    • Beginner Group Classes: 6-week program covering chipping, putting, short-irons, long-irons, woods and rules and etiquette. Students receive range card discounts and 50% discount on a round of golf
    • Saturday/Sunday one-hour clinic at 2 pm offered year-round for $15

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • DEVELOPMENT - continued
  • Introduction to Golf 1 and Golf 2 clinics. After both sets of clinics teachers feel the student is ready for the course
  • Weekly Senior’s, Men’s and Women’s clinics for $15. A series of 5 lessons runs $149.
  • Hour-long clinics held two evenings a week. “Rookie” series of lessons geared to beginners who would like private lessons.
  • “Fundamentals Golf School”: six hours of instruction. Offered over four consecutive Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Small groups with 5:1 student/teacher ratio. 3 week range pass included and use of demo clubs.
  • Weekly clinics at mid-day and in the evenings. On Monday and Tuesday evenings separate clinics for adults through the Town Parks & Rec. On Saturdays offer 1/2 day golf schools with a 5:1 teacher ratio.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • DEVELOPMENT - continued
  • For a great introduction to the game, put together groups ranging from 6 - 12 adults. Instruction, greens fees, golf equipment and range balls are included for a $60 fee. Phase into adult intermediates by offering group lessons for groups of 4 - 8 adults. During the first and third week, record swings on video.
  • As with junior programs we offer our classes through two local Park & Rec.’s. Class is 4 x 1-hour classes offered weekday evenings, or Saturday/Sunday. Lessons include balls, clubs if needed, and a Group Lesson Discount Card that gives students $2 off a large mat bucket for 25 sessions ($50 value) when they come back to practice. A minimum of 4 students per class needed, but will take up to 10. Most of the people in these classes are beginners. The cost is $99 per session.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

    • Female LPGA instructors but no specific programs.
    • Women’s programs in association with the Executive Women’sGolf Association, and American Singles Golfer Association
    • Tuesday evening clinics by an LPGA instructor followed by a glass of wine

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • DEVELOPMENT - continued
  • Offer multiple women-only clinics throughout the year. Make available numerous ladies demos for use and concentrate on building a non-intimidating environment in preparation for play on the golf course.
  • Have a female member of the PGA on your staff. She will be successful in recruiting and developing more female business.
  • Transition to play program: “LEN” or Little Experience Needed. It’s a 3-hole league. “5 O’Clockers” which is an after work ladies league that runs for 7 weeks during the Spring, Summer and Fall. LPGA certification site for teaching professionals.
  • Each summer two “women-only” golf schools. The program runs for 3 days and includes 9.5 hours of instruction, 3 hours of on-course instruction, video-taping, food and gift bags. Child care available for all of our programs.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • Golf Leagues & Frequency Programs
  • Memberships and a 10-round pass at the course. VIP Pass gives patrons 50 buckets of balls at 25% off. We also have a coupon book where people can buy 4 buckets and get 1 free.
  • Our discount range program is very popular:
  • a) pay once
  • b) receive 20-30% discount off all buckets of range balls
  • c) no time limits for use
  • d) three entry levels: $100-$200-$300
  • e) free 30-minute lesson with the $300 level and f) 10% off non-sale items in the pro shop at the $300 membership level

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • Golf Leagues and FrequencyPrograms - continued
  • Short Course: Spring and Fall Middle School Intramurals; LEN (“Little Experience Needed”) League- ladies 3-hole league; LINKSTERS- age 4 & 5 alternate shot on 3 holes; Hook-A-Kid Challenge League; Hook-A-Kid Tee Level Play. On the range: Junior “ Mayor’s Cup Challenges” and Adult “Mayor’s Cup Challenges”. 30-day unlimited range pass.
  • KING OF THE RANGE competition each Thursday from 7 - 10 pm. One of the bent green target greens is chosen and a sand circle is drawn around the pin. The contestants pay $5 for 10 balls and score points in the following manner: 1 point for hitting the green; 2 points for touching the sand circle; 4 points for those golfers inside the circle; 10 points for a hole-in- one. Golfer who accumulates the highest point total is declared “King” and receives $3 x the number of entries. The “King” comes back the next week to play against the winner from the current week. If the “King” wins he is paid $4 x the number of entries. At the end of the season is a “King of Kings” tournament using a double elimination format. The winner wins $700 (jackpots can grow based on the number of “Kings” during the season. Results so positive that similar contest has been put together for putting on Saturdays and mini-golf on Thursdays.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • Golf Leagues and FrequencyPrograms - continued
  • Women’s Leagues, Junior Leagues, Church Leagues and Company Leagues
  • Senior Skins Game held every Wednesday morning on our par-3 course. This is a good way to build business during the slow weekday morning hours.
  • Junior Par 3 League allows juniors 6 - 17 to have a fun format for game development. Before each round there is a 20-30 minute group lesson. The league runs for 8 weeks on Tuesdays and is grouped by ages. Cost: $70. A Beginner Adult Par 3 League is also held. Beginner leagues are held for a 9-week session starting at 6 pm. There are 3 clinics taught by PGA pros as part of the league. Cost: $75. Our Intermediate Clinic is held at the same time and price on consecutive Wednesdays.
  • Several of our senior golfers have stepped up to form their own league. Called “Bogey Busters” Senior Par 3 League. The league requires a $5 membership fee, then seniors over 55 pay discounted greens fees.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • Golf Leagues and FrequencyPrograms - continued
  • Affiliate club with the Southern California Golf Association called Northwood Golf Club (“golf club without real estate”). Through annual membership of $50 scores from other courses can be posted, and on a monthly basis their handicap is updated. With their membership through Northwood Golf Club they can purchase our $50 Discount Range Card at a better savings than nonmembers. They can receive 20% off their first 3 or 6 lesson series, and they are entitled to play in our member-guest tournaments we have set up on a bimonthly basis at courses in our area. Membership stands at 116 at present.
  • LPGA pro started a Northwood Junior Golf League. Annual membership is $20. Every other week she takes juniors 9-16 years old to a 9-hole, par-3 course in the area for a “play day”. This is the first time out on a course for most of these kids so competition is not emphasized. Pro charges $10 more than the green fees, and the juniors pay for the play days they choose to participate in. Most of the members have taken the Junior Golf School repeatedly.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • Golf Leagues and FrequencyPrograms - continued
  • Best value in frequency discount programs are: $50 and $100 Discount Range Cards. The $50 card sells for $40 (20% savings) and the $100 sells for $75 (25% savings). They may be used for any size bucket, mat or grass tees as well as our short game area. Also offered is a Junior Discount Range Card that has a $50 value and sells for $35. This card may be used only by those under 18 years old and the players must use the synthetic mats rather than the grass tee line.
  • Two “Frequency” or rewards programs: “Player Club Membership” offered to individuals, families and corporate members. Cap it at 300 members each year...and they do fill up. Season for marketing the membership is the November/December holiday season for the following year. Membership is as follows: Individual: $150. A Family membership is $185 for two people with an additional $15 per child. Corporate memberships are based on a minimum of 3 people from the same company: $130 for the first corporate member then $50 for each additional person. All membership levels include one $60 range card and access to the “members only” short game area which consists of two chipping greens, private putting area, sand bunker area and grass tees.

“Best Practices at Alternative Facilities”

  • Golf Leagues and FrequencyPrograms - continued
  • Player Club Members also have a private sale in the pro shop during the December holidays. It’s a one-night 20% off sale. The “Cluboratory” is a
  • private demo area where we allow our clients who purchase a $15 “Cluboratory” card to come and use this area. The area consists of demo carts from all the major club manufacturers. Golfers receive a bucket of balls and have a qualified club-fitter who can go out and consult or do a fitting. Members hold onto their $15 receipts and can apply the value of the card to the purchase of equipment or pro shop items. Multiple receipts may be combined.
  • Short course runs junior leagues Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 9-12 noon all summer long.
  • Golf leagues are offered 2-4 times a week. 10-week leagues include playoffs at the end. After work and on weekends, discounts given on range balls theday of golf leagues. Mens/Ladies/Junior golf leagues available.