Doug Brody, the 2014 PGA Michigan PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, is the PGA Head Professional at the Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, in Grand Blanc, Michigan.
Growing the game of golf very often goes hand-in-hand with a vibrant youth golf program. As PGA Professionals, we work to foster a love of golf in our youngest members to ensure our businesses will thrive well into the future. At Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club, we have developed a youth program that utilizes our entire teaching team. We start the summer program with a two-day golf school during the first weekend of June. Based on our observations, five divisions (1-holers, 3-holers, 5-holers, 9-holers, 18-holers), which are based on skill and experience, are formed. Participants come every Wednesday morning for a half-hour clinic and a shotgun start. Managing the schedule is a detailed process that incorporates five teaching professionals, our golf course superintendent and many parents of the participants. Overseeing this process is one of my most important duties at Warwick Hills. Under the lead instruction of PGA First Assistant Joel Hoffman, an intricate schedule has been created for the Wednesday rounds, which also allows for our adult members to begin teeing off by 11:00 a.m. My wife, former LPGA Touring Professional Jenn Brody, is also involved, and while we enjoy a wonderful mix of ages and skill levels, we feel it’s most important that half of our 130-plus weekly participants are girls. Emphasizing the fun of the game is vital to its success. The donut-hole and chocolate milk station between the clinic and shotgun start doesn’t hurt either!
With 130-plus participants paying $95 each for the two-day golf school and six-weeks of clinics and golf, the success of the program is evident. Our local program has also helped PGA Jr. League flourish at our club, with Warwick Hills being one of the first private clubs in Michigan to support the endeavor. We have two U13 teams and two U16 teams, and our all-stars have won the state championship twice and placed runner-up last year. For kids aging out of PGA Jr. League, we created a six-team interclub competition. Ultimately, youth golf is our number one recruiting and retention tool for new members, and it entices families to join and stay each year. With grandchildren of members participating in our program, we have almost two- dozen families who retain their membership so their grandkids can participate. Youth participation is key in increasing rounds, impacting food & beverage revenues and growing our golf shop sales (we sold over 700 pieces of youth apparel in 2016 alone). Our club’s average age has decreased from 56 to 45 in the past 12 years as young families continue to join. Finally, about those donut holes…we go through over 500 of them per week. It’s a positive, winning scenario across the board, with a team effort encouraging teamwork, while growing the game, building our business, and enjoying it every step of the way.