M.G. Orender: Relax Your Operation and Focus on Having Fun

M.G. Orender, a PGA of America Past President and PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame Member, is the President of Hampton Golf in Jacksonville, Florida.

After acquiring this facility, my team at Hampton Golf, including Executive Vice President Travis Norman, decided to completely revamp the way the course looked and worked to attract more millennials and people who yearned for quicker golf and more fun. We eliminated bunkers, removed trees and underbrush, making it more playable and fun, while doing all of this within the same general footprint. Off course, it started by eliminating the golf shops — it’s now the game room — with players checking in via iPads at the bar. Merchandise is still available, though, in an easy to-go format along a retail wall. Players now have the option of playing 3-, 6-, 9- 12-, or 18-holes. We have no dress code beyond wearing a shirt, and playing music in the golf car is strongly encouraged!

It’s been a rousing success. Even the members (this used to be a private club and is now a daily fee golf course) who were skeptical at the start have bought into our concept of a fun, judgment-free zone. As a result of these initiatives, we have a capture rate of millennials and Gen-Xers above 60 percent of the 140 to 200 rounds a day. We’ve gone from 20,000 rounds per year pre-renovation to currently 36,000-40,000, with rates of $29–$39 in the off-peak months and $39–$49 during peak season. Although we’ve downsized our merchandise offerings into a “retail wall,” we’re still doing $7,000–$9,000 per month in retail sales, a great number for a daily fee facility. We’re also doing $6,000–$7,000 per month on range balls at our lighted range. And because our staff does everything — bartends, serves food, takes in green fees and sells merchandise — they get a cut of the sales too, so there’s buy-in on their end as well. Our course motto is “Everyone is Welcome” and we mean it. So liven up your facility and add fun to it. You’ll reap the benefits immediately.