John Pawlak is the PGA Head Professional at Bretwood Golf Course in Keene, New Hampshire.
At my last facility, on any given summer weekend, the resort had between 250-325 kids on the property, most of whom were not playing golf. To expose the youth to the game and maximize the reach to all of our guests, we started offering complimentary golf to all kids under the age of 15. Our par 35, 9-hole course, is the focus of our youth presence because it stands alone from our popular par 72, 18-hole course, designed by Donald Ross. This allows for a non-obtrusive environment for the youth golfers to learn the game where they are not feeling the pressure to keep up with seasoned golfers playing 18 holes. Starting July 4 through August, kids under 12-years-old could play free golf when accompanied by a paying adult. In addition, we offered a modified six-hole route that allowed parents and children to play in less time. Needless to say, the kids took advantage and the parents loved the promotion because it allowed them to play more too.
Offering complimentary golf to youth golfers 12-years-old and under allowed us to find ancillary spending in golf at the resort. Our yield for retail increased $2.54 per person and our yield for food & beverage increased $2.73 per person. Rounds played also grew nine percent ahead of the previous year. Additionally, we noticed an increase in lessons. By saving parents a round of golf for their son or daughter, they ended up asking questions about our youth program, or buying their kids lunch or a hat. We also saw an influx of more rounds played from the previous year. Management was incredibly happy with the results from the summer program as senior management was in support of the efforts to not devalue golf but to encourage it.