The Golf Club who Tried to Please Everyone

It’s nice to be liked, so it is often tempting to try and please everyone.

I assume that most can relate to times where they have tried to be everything for everyone, only for it to lead them down a road of spinning plates and covering up white lies in a desperate attempt to not let anyone down. The lesson usually learnt is that it’s better to have a clear set priorities so that time can be allocated more confidently and in a more focused manner. Paradoxically, by closing the door on many, but opening it fully to a smaller few, you have a better chance to be of value to those who matter.

I think that there are many Golf Clubs that can learn from these life lessons.

I came across a LinkedIn artcile the other day, nobly entitled, ‘How to reach Millenial golfers: 12 Things they want at the course’. Having given it a quick read – nothing in it surprised me – the standard plead for music, mobile apps, relaxed dress codes and shorter rounds. In my opinion, nothing particularly original or helpful within the article – clearly something put together to play up to the desperation golf has to re-brand itself into something cool without too much thought about how it can be done practically.

I imagined the desperate Golf Club Manager reading it at his desk, sweating under the pressure of ‘needing to lower the average age’ of the Club, under strict orders from ‘the board’. In a desperate attempt to do so, an article like this may trigger a knee-jerk reaction.

The question is – is it doing more harm than good?

Like in life, it is a known fact in business that ‘trying to be everything for everyone‘ is a recipe for disaster, and I can’t help but feel many clubs have a blind spot in this area.

You only need to look at the hugely successful businesses and brands to see how they understand this. McDonalds caters to an audience looking for a fast and inexpensive treat. Whilst it might seem obvious for the company to want to sweep up more market share by increasing the size of this audience, they have never sold premium burgers or expected customers to wait long periods of time for their burger and spend 2 hours in their restaurants. This experience would be so conflicting to the experience that regular McDonalds customers know and love that it would end up not growing their market share, but the exact opposite, eating into their loyal customer base (no pun intended). It’s also why Colgate are entirely focused on providing the best toothpaste in the world, and are not looking to prodive razors or ready meals, because the experience of brushing your teeth is not one you want caught up in other areas of your life!

Despite this, most Golf Clubs I speak to are looking to:

– have a thriving ‘core membership’ of 40-60 year olds

– be a great place for milennials and under 30s to hang out and play

– be welcoming and open to ladies of all ages

– be welcoming to seniors

– have a thriving junior section

All on the same course, within the same clubhouse, under the same brand!

I can only speak for myself, but as a 25 year old, I am looking for a golf experience that’s tailored to me and my wants. I want to be playing with mates, and others who are around my age, and I don’t want to be playing behind a bunch of 70 year olds and being chased down by a bunch of kids. Similarly, when I get in the clubhouse, I want their to be wifi, craft beers and music, which would be deemed as at best annoying or at worst offensive to most over the age of 50 – apologies in advance to those who would love it.

It seems, therefore, that the recipe for success is for clubs to know exactly who their target audience is and what they want. This can then dictate what experience the club needs to offer and what priorities and focus needs to be put in place in order to bring it about.

Blindly thinking that you need ‘more younger members’ and then investing in an expensive mobile app for your club is something that I have seen clubs willingly do but is not necessarily a smart move if it is not lead by a clear strategy or purpose.

In my opinion, it is absolutely necessary that any Golf Club asks good questions of itself in order to understand itself better. Who is my most important customer? What do they want their experience to be like? Are we doing all we can to provide that? What do we need to change about our experience? Are we focusing on the right people?

Having asked these introspective questions, a Club will then be able to make the required changes to provide an experience tailored to their target audience. Until they have done this, any attempts are futile.

It may be that your Club is the best place for retired golfers to play, in which case ‘on-course wifi’ is probably not a priority.

It may be that your Club’s focus is on 20-35 year olds living and working in urban areas, in which case, creating a modern, interactive experience is of the utmost importance.


Harry is the co-founder of 1PUTT Golf, a new golf experience tailored to the modern player. The 1PUTT experience leverages new exciting short formats, a new sociable atmosphere and the latest technologies to appeal to new audiences and modernise the sport.

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