GFAA Best Practice: Develop Golf Fitness Programming for Specific Demographics

Shannan Hunt is the Fitness Manager at Fiddler’s Elbow in Bedminster Township, New Jersey.

Shannan Hunt on the importance of developing golf fitness programming for specific demographics:

As our club’s Fitness Manager, I oversee the gym, as well as all of the special fitness-related events we host, such as fun runs like our Turkey Trot every Thanksgiving. I also supervise facilitation of four online group fitness classes, as well as four regular group fitness classes in person, with that number to increase as COVID protocols continued to be eased in New Jersey. Golf is definitely king at Fiddler’s Elbow, however, and as such we recently had over 1,500 golfers on our three courses in a three-day span. We have new carts, pristine courses and a dedicated group of golfers. One important segment of golfer at our club is our seniors. I implemented an off-season golf training program two years ago called “Yards and Years” geared towards a group of 60 senior golfers known as our Weekday Warriors. They range in age from 55 to 82 and play almost every day all season long, even in the cold New Jersey winter. I introduced myself to one of their members to see if they would be interested in my off-season training program, and got about a dozen members of the group to commit to our program the first year. I put the program together utilizing my fitness expertise, as well as my marketing background, offering incentives for long-term commitment. For instance, to entice them to pay for the 14-week program up front, we offered them a night in our indoor facility’s swing bay, providing food and drink and giving them a really fun experience not readily available to all members. “Balls and Beer”, as the evening was called, made them feel special and appreciated.

Shannan Hunt on the business impact of developing golf fitness programming for specific demographics:

“Yards and Years” sessions were held twice per week from December 2019 to March 2020, and focused on mobility and flexibility. We extended the program virtually when the pandemic hit, continuing it until the courses finally reopened for play. During the sessions, we welcomed special guests to engage the group, such as a local chiropractor/physical therapist, who shared his knowledge of the body and breathing, wowing the golfers, and adding a benefit they didn’t expect at the outset. We also hosted a sports psychologist, a nutritionist and a yoga coach. I didn’t know these men prior to their participation in my program, and now they stop in to my office to say hi as they’re passing through – we have a great relationship. One of them, an 82-year-old member, says he’s hitting the ball farther than ever. We ran a virtual program from January to the beginning of April of this year, and look forward to doing it in person again later this winter. There are plans to incorporate our PGA Professionals into the sessions to reinforce some more technical golf aspects of the training. I’m working on putting a similar program together for our women members and hope to have the opportunity to engage a group of them in the winter as well, and maybe even our juniors. Getting more members involved in golf fitness may be the catalyst we need to warrant expansion of our fitness space, an endeavor that was being discussed pre-COVID, and was unfortunately put on hold amid the pandemic.

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