THE REASONS WHY WOMEN LIKE RANGES
by Nancy Berkley
One: She can “play” golf in less than two hours – including travel time.
Women are short on time. Most women will be able to find a practice range convenient to them –either at a golf course or a stand-alone range. A conveniently located range reduces travel time and means that she can fit the whole golf experience in a couple of hours.
Two: A practice tee can provide “on-course” experiences and build confidence for playing on a course.
Although a practice tee or range is not a golf course, women can learn how to “play” golf while on the range. (Of course, many women will continue to use the range primarily to refine and practice their shots.) A good instructor especially in beginner lessons should explain how to use the practice range as follows:
- Take shots as if playing a hole. Assume the hole is 300 yards. Hit a tee shot (with whatever club is working), analyze how far that went, and how much distance is left, take another club and figure out how much is left. Keep hitting from the practice tee until you hit to one of the flagsticks on the range. (This is why it’s always important to have some 50 yard markers out there on the range. It’s even more helpful if your range has some flagsticks with greens so women can see how the ball rolls on the green using different clubs.)
- It is helpful if on the practice range, if there are a couple of real tee set ups with real markers. This is a good place to teach “teeing up the ball” correctly.
- Another good idea is to create a few practice tees with slopes. This is where golfers can learn to hit up-hill and down-hill and sideway lies. Explain hitting from un-even lies in a golf lesson and show where to practice it on the range. Everything that prepares women for the challenges they will experience on the golf course, is a confidence builder.
Three: Golf Lessons and Clinics can be offered at more reasonable prices at a golf range than at most courses. New women golfers are hesitant about investing too much money in the beginning; so affordable lessons are very attractive to them.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE SURE
SHE COMES BACK TO THE RANGE
Make your group lessons on the range a little more social. Here's how: Take a few minutes to introduce each other – even use name tags with Name and Town. (Men don’t like name tags, but women do.) These five-minute social times are not a waste of time – but don’t drag it out. Offer refreshments near the practice range if possible – water, coffee, soda. It’s a good place to take a break and meet other women that could become fellow golfers. There should always be a water fountain or beverage stand near the range.
Offer a supervised practice – one or two hours where women can come and be supervised by an instructor. Charge a modest fee, Try to figure out whether your customers are working women or stay-at-home moms because that will determine the best time for your supervised practice sessions. (Suzy Whaley believes that 1 pm (when children are napping) is a good time for moms.)
As part of beginner clinics, provide a checklist of basic skills needed for course readiness – that can all be practiced on your range. For example, I think most women can go out on the course once they can usually hit 75 yards or more off a tee. (In the beginning, it is ok for women to use a tee on the fairways). They should know how to hit out of bunker and bunker rules and etiquette – but also know when to pick up the ball if not in a competition. From their practice on the range, they should know what clubs to use within 100 yards of the green, 75 yards and 50 yards, as well as putting etiquette. It would be a good idea to provide a written handout with these basic skills listed, so women can really “check” them off.
Provide every customer with a bag tag from your range – inexpensive ones are fine (available for 50cents). Write down the woman’s name with her preferred designation as Mrs., Miss or Ms. Now your staff can address her by her name – something women like because it shows good customer service. Use the back of the bag tag for the checklist described above, or use it for a personal club-distance reference where she can write in her own club distances.
Make arrangements with near-by courses for your range players to experience the golf course. Create a marketing partnerships with courses – use “bounce-back” coupons: a round of golf gets her a discount on her next bucket of balls, and a bucket of balls, gets her a discount on a tee time.
Offer a women’s demo day. There are very few good demo days where all the manufacturers provide clubs for women. With a little promotion, your demo day could make the headlines.
In a perfect world, there should be a shelter – or awning. It never rains on the golf course, but occasionally it does on the range. Women don’t relish playing golf in the rain, generally.
If your course does not allow cell phones, make sure there is a house telephone near the range. Women are often “in between” appointments and errands and need to check in.
Make sure the restrooms convenient to the range are clean. They should have covered trash cans, a clean mirror, fresh coat of paint and a touch of something feminine – like a pretty mirror, small vase of silk flowers or framed art print. To wow the women, use a marble or granite counter top on the sink vanity.
If you really want to use your practice range for group lessons, remember that 80% of the group lessons are taken by women. (Men strongly prefer private lessons.) For a good group lesson, think about where you would set up a dozen chairs around a lesson tee. Many instructors in group lessons, spend the first few minutes with a demo; so, especially on hot days, women appreciate having a place to sit for 10 minutes.
Finally, if you really want women at your range, offer baby-sitting. Even if just during one or two of your special clinics, or at limited times, think about it. For information about local regulations, visit the tennis facilities (especially indoors). The tennis industry seems to be ahead of the curve on baby-sitting services.