By Kim Campbell
Golf courses face tough competition — not just from other courses in the area, but also from other recreation facilities and hobby-focused venues nearby. Courses located in an area with ample recreation opportunities may find themselves struggling to capture the attention of athletes, adventure seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, and so many other types of customers. If you’re looking for creative golf course revenue-generating ideas that will help your venue stand out in a crowded market, appeal to more event planners, or overcome a seasonal revenue slump, we can help.
In this post, we explore revenue strategies that golf course managers and marketing directors can use to drive profits for their course(s). From advertising opportunities and merchandise sales to event ideas and partnerships, we look at a variety of golf course revenue-generating ideas you can harness to increase your revenue potential.
Discover 12 golf course revenue-generating ideas that actually work
1. Connect with more actively-sourcing event planners.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked golf course revenue-generating ideas on this list? Catching the attention of event planners. Connect with thousands of venue-sourcing planners by promoting your golf course through Cvent advertising. The Cvent Supplier Network puts hotels and event venues, including golf courses, in front of planners who are actively sourcing in the area.
In addition to providing venues with high-quality listing services, Cvent uses automated RFP tools that can drive more business to your course and provide real-time data about conditions in your market. Receive access to planner activity tracking and behavioral analysis software, which provide valuable insights into planner behavior and booking habits. When venues understand how a planner behaves, they may be more likely to capture the planner’s attention — and their business.
2. Appeal to more customers with tiered memberships.
A casual golfer who tries to get to the course once a month will have a different relationship with your course than a golfer who hits the links 2-3 times a week. Sell more club memberships by offering a variety of tiered packages at different prices. The more expensive a membership package is, the more member services it should include. Aim to bundle underutilized club assets and services, such as social activities or pro shop access, to drive additional revenue.
3. Promote custom personalized packages.
Offer customizable membership packages to provide customers with a truly personalized member experience. List all of the membership services available at your location, from golfing and spa services to dining and member events, and attach an appropriate price to each. Allow customers to pick and choose, adding as many services as they wish to their custom course package.
When members have the option to create personalized packages based on their habits and hobbies, courses can trust that they’re including a membership option for every customer. Custom memberships can also help turn irregular visitors who only use the golf course occasionally into loyal club members who take advantage of every service available.
4. Drive pro shop sales with branded merchandise.
Sell items that golfers regularly need, such as golf balls, tees, gloves, and clubs, but put your unique spin on pro shop item designs first. Place your brand image on items to create an identifiable line of course merchandise. Include your logo on hats, windbreakers, and umbrellas. Take it a step further and memorialize club membership anniversaries, tournament participation, and unbelievable golf scores on pro shop merchandise. Create exclusive merch to honor 5-year members, 10-year members, and so on.
Allow golfers to customize merchandise to fit their unique style, and reward loyal members with gifted merchandise. Offer member discounts, punch card specials, and exclusive offers to drive repeat shop stops. Pro shop visitors and club members will feel valued and proud to show off their one-of-a-kind gear.
5. Capture more wedding business.
During wedding season, golf courses have a prime opportunity to drive special event revenue by hosting pre-wedding events, such as bridal showers or rehearsal dinners, as well as wedding ceremonies and receptions. With beautiful scenery abound, on-site dining services, event space, and a team of professional service staff, golf courses that do not take advantage of the booming seasonal wedding business could be missing out on major revenue.
List your course on Wedding Spot to market your venue to the thousands of wedding planners and engaged couples who turn to Cvent for their wedding venue needs each year. Showcase wedding services on your social media pages and encourage couples to do the same. Include trending wedding hashtags to boost your audience reach and share a variety of content types (i.e. video content, photos, and reviews).
Build strong relationships with local vendors and wedding professionals to further market your venue as a one-stop shop for engaged couples and wedding planners. Highlight your event services, partner vendors, and venue at an open house event or wedding expo.
6. Grow consumer outreach with an e-commerce page.
If you don’t already have one, add an e-commerce page to your golf course’s website. Opening merchandise sales online can help your venue reach a new pipeline of online consumers; 88% of shoppers look at a business’s website before visiting. In addition to driving more member purchases, launching an e-commerce site can help the marketing team reach customers who have not yet visited your course, introducing your business and merchandise to a whole new audience of customers.
Offer a wide variety of items and style options to help increase the likelihood of generating considerable additional revenue. Sell tangible branded merchandise, as well as golf packages, event tickets, and other offers that don’t consume physical inventory space in the pro shop.
7. Optimize day-to-day operations through automation.
In the world of business, time is money. Optimizing day-to-day course operations can help your venue save valuable time, increasing revenue potential. Automate event management tasks, day-to-day processes, and standard procedures with automated course management systems and digital tools to optimize venue operations. When time-consuming manual tasks are automated, course employees and management staff can have more time to focus on customer service, sales, and business relationships.
Encourage golfers to make online bookings, freeing up the service desk to spend more time working with course visitors. Install digital self-service kiosks that golfers can use to complete course check-in, purchase on-site services, and even order to-go dining from the course restaurant. Create automated event marketing campaigns and use dynamic pricing software that automatically updates pricing based on market conditions, customer demand, and remaining inventory.
8. Partner with nonprofit organizations.
Team up with local charity organizations and nonprofits for fundraising events. Host on-site charity drives, sponsor events, or social media contests to raise awareness and drive donations for a local nonprofit. Some of the most popular golf course fundraisers include benefit dinners, tournaments, black tie galas, silent auctions, golfing expos, and ball drop raffles.
By partnering with local nonprofits, your golf course can raise its venue profile in the community and build up a formidable reputation as a dependable fundraising partner. Not only can fundraisers introduce new community members to your venue and increase your course’s exposure, but the increased exposure will help drive additional revenue to your course as well.
9. Host monthly networking mixers
Create better event networking opportunities while displaying your course's special event and meeting services. Each month, host a laid-back after-hours networking mixer. Invite golf club members, small businesses, and leaders in the community to participate. Serve appetizers, offer each attendee two free drink tickets, and encourage attendees to bring a new guest each month to increase the mixer’s reach.
Use networking events to foster stronger business relationships in the community. Book a prominent business or organization leader to briefly discuss a relevant issue at each mixer. Empower attendees to get to one another to build a local business network that offers support to its members.
10. Host private events.
Capture additional revenue by renting event space and selling special event services. From individual private events, like parties and receptions, to corporate meetings and events, most golf courses have the space required to host a variety of events. Turn empty or unused banquet space into high-quality meeting and event rooms to maximize your revenue potential. Use Cvent Event Diagramming tools to quickly update event layouts and setup options, as well as communicate with planners and staff, ensuring that private events go off without a hitch.
11. Reward loyalty.
According to Accenture reporting, 57% of customers spend more money on providers or brands that they are loyal to. Drive revenue by creating a loyalty program that rewards customers for repeat business. Create a culture that celebrates loyal course members and expresses gratitude for repeat customers.
Demonstrate member appreciation with exclusive perks, unique offers, and VIP treatment. Notify loyal customers of upcoming events first, and host members-only exclusive social events throughout the year. Keep your current customers satisfied so they keep coming back.
12. Create appealing incentive programs.
Create an incentive program that incentivizes a wide range of revenue-driving actions. Offer benefits for course members and visitors who refer new customers, visit frequently, or repeatedly sponsor course events.
Referrals: Offer discounts and freebies to members whose referrals lead to new membership sign-ups, event bookings, and confirmed resort services, such as spa services or private lessons.
Purchases: Create a physical or digital punch card that visitors can use in the restaurant, on-site coffee shop, or pro shop. Customers earn a punch for each purchase they make and receive rewards as they accumulate punches.
Sponsorships: Entice sponsors to continuously participate in golf course events and fundraising efforts with VIP marketing campaigns, sponsor appreciation events, and a discount on every third or fourth sponsorship. Regularly support and share information about sponsor events, products, and promotions.
Incentive programs are a fantastic way for golf courses to harness the power of member marketing and satisfy your craving for more sponsorships. Reward members and supporters for encouraging new customers to visit your venue, cutting down on the cost of attracting new customers. More importantly, offering incentives is a tangible and effective way for golf clubs to show off their generosity. Offer impressive rewards for incentives that generate the highest levels of new revenue for the course.
Frequently asked questions about golf course revenue generators
How can I promote my golf course?
Promote your golf course to potential visitors on social media, through Google Search Ads, via email, on your website, on venue sourcing platforms, and through direct mail marketing. Use Google Analytics to understand visitor behavior on your website, and turn on location services to appear higher in local search results. Run ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, and work with partners or sponsors for cross-promotion. Capture drone footage of the course to create captivating video marketing content. The options are endless!
Where do golf courses earn the most money?
Golf courses and resorts rely on a variety of revenue drivers, from course fees to special services. Typically, the largest revenue producers for courses include green fees, membership fees, food and beverage sales, and pro shop sales. Increasing membership and green fees may be the fastest way to drive revenue directly to the course, but consistent increases can put off potential customers, driving them to lower-cost competitors.
How much money does a golf course make?
No two golf courses are the same. From course to course and club to club, location, services, and reputation can have a major effect on how much revenue a course annually produces. Some courses offer a driving range or professional lessons, for example, while others do not. Typically, golf courses make anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than five million dollars annually, according to Golf Cart Report’s 2022 market report.
Put these golf course revenue-generating ideas to good use!
Now that you have a list of golf course revenue-generating ideas to choose from, you can create a marketing plan that suits your venue’s unique goals and objectives. Establish which ideas will benefit your course the most, and develop a marketing plan that incorporates those ideas.
Up next, we take a closer look at marketing tools and strategies that golf courses use to increase the impact of their marketing. We take a deeper dive into golf resort marketing strategies that course managers, event planners, activity organizers, and marketing directors can use to improve their advertising potential. From improving your SEO content to optimizing online business listings, we look at nine marketing strategies golf courses use to boost business.
Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list. Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.