Mike Williams, the 2020 Illinois PGA Section Golf Executive of the Year, the 2009 Section Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities and the 2001 Section Bill Strausbaugh Award winner, is the Vice President of Operations for Landscapes Golf Management in Aurora, Illinois.
Mike Williams on the importance of moving golfers from the green to the gym:
I have been heavily involved in the game and the industry of golf for decades. Over that time, the connection between golf and fitness has grown immensely. As such, there’s so much more to golfers reaching their scoring potential than taking hoards of lessons and hiring sports psychologists. A workout regimen must be in place to optimize the physical requirements of all those swings, putts and four-and-a-half mile walks over 18 holes. In my current position with Landscapes Golf Management – operator of more than 50 golf courses, country clubs and resorts across America – I’ve accumulated several insights about how to move golfers from the course to the gym. Primarily, the golf shop and fitness center should visually look the part. This means carrying fashion products universally designed for the golf course and workouts. The crossover brands include Puma, Nike, adidas, TASC and Vuori. Hoodies, joggers, leggings and loosely fitted, everyday wear are now appropriate and acceptable at most country clubs. Add to that hot-selling, personal massage therapy devices, and your golf shop is officially in the fitness business. Second, educate members and guests about the importance of maintaining fitness, and making their well-being a part of the community culture. Emphasize the importance of the following:
- Golf is the game of a lifetime
- Consistently create more distance and power
- Benefit mobility and flexibility
- Gain core stability and strength
- Reduce and prevent injury
Third, create incentives like a free personal training session and evaluation for newbies. Double down by integrating golf fitness into instruction programs with mandates to attend these sessions regularly. One-and-done students will not win. Absences are proverbially inexcusable. Fourth, develop a fitness area at your club suitable for continuous physical training, not to mention opportunities for year-round engagement with members and guests, even when inclement weather prohibits time on the links.
Mike Williams on the business impact of moving golfers from the green to the gym:
The next idea is to promote the hosting of outdoor fitness classes, like “yoga on the range,” which are highly visible. My experience also dictates there are appetites for “bootcamp in the ballroom.” Another idea: become a host site for free workout groups, like F3 for men and Females in Action (FiA), to raise visibility of the club as a fitness destination in the community. Kids’ fitness camps usually prove strong, as well. Lastly, I suggest partnering with a local physical therapy provider to offer pre-event stretching before large golf events. It’s amazing how employing these off-course, fitness-oriented strategies and tactics often turns golfers into real players, while producing meaningful, incremental revenue for golf courses, clubs and resorts.
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