Kevin McKinley, the 2017 Patriot Award winner, 2017 Michigan PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year, a three-time Northern Michigan Chapter Patriot Award winner, two-time Chapter Bill Strausbaugh Award winner and two-time Chapter Golf Professional of the Year, is the Section President and PGA Director of Golf at the Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan.
Over the years I have been heavily involved in charitable work for the military, but the majority of events supported out of town veterans and actives. I wanted to create an event close to home that engaged the local community on a regular basis. I decided to create a military golf league, based on the success of the PGA Jr. League. I chose to replicate the league model with adults because the format is extremely welcoming and lowers the barrier to entry. We had four teams comprised of between 10 and 12 players each. The league lasts 15 weeks and we alternate each week between a nine-hole scramble match play event and a one-hour clinic. This allows us to both get them on the golf course while also helping them improve their games. At the end of the season our year-end banquet coincides with our existing Patriot Golf Day Gala and each league member and a guest will be welcome to attend. My only worry is if we will we be able to accommodate the numbers that will turn out.
We charge a one-time $50 league fee. One might question why we are charging veterans, but I have found that people are more engaged because they have invested in the league. We haven’t had any problems with people not showing up on a regular basis (which is sometimes the case when an event is totally free) and high levels of engagement create a better atmosphere for all participants. At the start of the season we had 42 players signed up. During the season we have added 12 additional participants, simply through word of mouth. For the past seven years I have offered a military membership at a 75 percent discounted rate of $500. Up until last year we had nine military memberships. This year alone, we have added 20 new military memberships. Ultimately our goal was to support and show our appreciation for the military, and through doing that we have also been able to develop relationships that have resulted in additional revenue streams.