Stephen Wallace: Run an Active, Ongoing Hole-in-One Jackpot

Stephen Wallace is the PGA General Manager at Eisenhower Golf Club, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

After 22 years as a PGA Professional, one thing I know about a lot of golfers is that they like competition. They are often willing to put their pride on the line, and before they hit the links at Eisenhower Golf Club, I get them to put a little more. There is a contest I’ve promoted since my days in Phoenix and it is now just as popular in Colorado Springs. With each golfer who checks in to play, I ask him or her if they’d like to put 50 cents on the line. If they do, they are entered into our hole-in-one jackpot. This jackpot, sometimes quite substantial, is awarded to the next golfer who gets an ace during his or her round. If no one does it today, the funds carry over to tomorrow, and so on and so on. As I write this, the current total is $913. Over the years, jackpots have grown as high as $2,200. One time, some years back, it actually hit $3,200. The jackpot is paid out in golf shop or food & beverage credit. Either way, the funds remain at the facility, and the big winner gets to shop guilt-free, knowing he or she can’t use the prize anywhere else anyway. Some buy drinks all around, while others spring for that $600 driver they would have never bought otherwise. Either way, paying 50 cents at check-in adds an element of excitement to everyone’s round.

After all those years, and all those golfers, I realize how rare a hole-in-one really is. The great aspect of it, however, is that literally anyone can achieve it. How many high handicappers do you know who actually have an ace, whereas some of your better players have yet to experience the glory of one? The jackpot grows faster than you’d think. Fifty cents isn’t much, but when over 60 percent of your golfers partake in the competition, the payout increases rapidly. Over the years, I have experienced an average of $10,000 in added golf shop revenue annually based on this simple, fun, and very popular promotion. For some shops, that’s a substantial percentage of its annual sales. For us, it is an additional shop revenue that we wouldn’t have had. No matter what your golf shop’s bottom line is, our golfers are all the same. Put something on the line and they’ll take the bait, and they’ll have a great time doing it. Providing this fun aspect to the golfers’ rounds with a simple contest goes a long way towards creating relationships and enhancing existing ones.