Chris Harder is the PGA Director of Golf at Club de Bonmont at Plantation Bay in Ormond Beach, Florida.
Every year, I try to do one thing new. When I was at Tupelo Country Club, in Belden, Mississippi, I noticed the success of our PGA Jr. League program, and I decided to design a modified women’s program in a similar fashion, with teams and uniforms. The more I talked with our club’s women, the more I saw that creating their own group was an attractive idea. They selected their own uniforms and whom they wanted to play with. I figured we’d have three teams, but we had 12 teams of four, far exceeding my expectations. This program was not for experienced players; the objective was to attract new golfers. We called it the Chip and Sip League. We had a kick-off party in April on our seven-hole par-3 course. We set up a practice range station as well as a chipping and putting game, to introduce the players to the game and to one another. The league was flexible; not every golfer showed up for every event. We formed two divisions of six teams each. Players had five months to play their matches — whenever their schedules allowed — but they had to finish by the end of September. They enjoyed their freedom of choice as to play dates. They created a dedicated Facebook page, inviting all league members in, to enhance communication. The women played seven-hole matches on our par-3 course. We used a scramble format, like the PGA Jr. League. This program was not competitive so much as a way for women to get together, learn to play and enjoy the experience. My goal from a club perspective was to get them more familiar with what the club has to offer — an opportunity to enhance member retention.
I owned the golf shop. I charged each player $150 for the Chip and Sip season. Two shirts per player cost me $50; the extra $100 was my instruction fee. So I made $4,800 on instruction through this league. In addition, some of the women took extra lessons from me; my revenue was about $3,000 from those lessons. All in all, it was a successful program. In fact, I found that it ended up being more of a time constraint on me than I anticipated, because it was more successful than I thought it would be.