There are ~12,000 public golf courses in the United States and well over 90% of them have branded websites. I just completed a research project that required me to visit every single one of those websites… it was a long slog but someone had to do it.
In addition to collecting my research data, I gave a lot of thought along the way to whether these websites actually help the golf course generate more business?
I could write a long treatise on the topic, but let me keep it pithy.
Most of the people who come to your website fit one of two profiles…
1) they are very familiar with your course and just want to book a tee time OR
2) they are not familiar with your course and want to learn more about it.
Yeah, I know… there are lots of other reasons that people might visit your website. For example, wedding planners might visit your site to check out your site as a possible wedding venue. But, let’s face it, the vast majority of your visitors are in the two categories we mention above and you should make sure that your site provides each with a positive experience.
For those who want to book a tee time, MAKE IT EASY. Prominently display a “Book a Tee Time” button on your home page and link it directly to a schedule of available tee times. Don’t put a lot of barriers in the way… it was shocking to me how many courses make you hunt and peck for the Book a Tee Time option or require 2 or 3 steps to get to the meat of the booking process. Every once in awhile, you should go to your own website and book a tee time to remind yourself how easy or hard you are making it for your potential customers.
For those who are trying to learn more about your golf course, the top of mind questions are:
1 – Why should I play your course? Give me a snappy answer to this question and I might keep reading… it helps if you can tell me something that is unique about your course.
2 – Where are you located? Address and easy GPS directions should be readily accessible.
3 – What does it cost to play? I’d like to throw a shoe at the course operators who send me to a “rates” page that then has a long treatise about their dynamic pricing policies but refuse to give me a range of rates. I basically read that as “I know you want to know how much it costs to play here but I’m not going to tell you.” Come on, just give me a clue and I might move to the next step.
Of course there is a lot more data you might want to pack on your website… league information, special events, scorecard data, food and beverage menus, drone videos of your course layout, etc… but #1-3 above are the meat… put them front and center… visitors shouldn’t have to move off your home page to get these questions answered. If you do a good enough job, they just might push that magic Book a Tee Time button!
I recently received an email with the subject line “Does your website suck?”. It was from a golf marketing agency called Golf Pulp Media and contained a link to their blog post “Why I’ll leave your website in 3 seconds or less”. I found it to be a worthwhile read.
If you’re interested in this topic and want to chat more about it, post a comment on this post or send the Gadfly a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. After all, where else can you find someone who has visited 12,000 golf course websites in the last 90 days?