In 2011, the PGA announced its Golf 2.0 program, a national challenge to grow the game by attracting a new generation of golfers to the first tee.
It was a challenge Gary Smith was happy to accept.
A longtime marketing executive in Portland and southwest Washington, Smith and his business partners — all avid golfers — saw in Golf 2.0 an opportunity to grow the game with golfers young and old, while at the same time saving money for golfers, and increasing revenue for local courses.
The resulting product — the Tee to Green Golf Club Golf Certificate — grants free and heavily discounted rounds of golf, golf merchandise and food and beverage credits at some of the Portland area’s most popular courses, with up to 30 percent of the proceeds from each card going directly to Oregon junior golf programs, including the First Tee and the Oregon Junior Golf Association.
A smashing success with golfers and golf courses alike in Portland, the company is looking to launch a similar program in the Seattle area in 2013.
“We need to increase rounds nationally, and the best way to do that is to make golf more affordable and attract new players to the game,” Smith says. “Our golf certificates are a win-win for everybody — the golfers save money on golf and other products in the pro shop and restaurant, the courses are able to fill tee times that might otherwise have gone unused, and the junior golf programs receive much-needed support.”
Unlike other players’ cards that spread their values around to 3-4 different courses, each Tee To Green Golf Certificate is tied to one specific course, which can determine its own benefits – free rounds, 2-for-1s, pro shop credit, etc. That’s a benefoit both to the course — which has the chance to earn repeat business from the golfer — and the golfer, who can establish a “home course” in their backyard at significantly discounted rates.
“With sites like Groupon, golfers are in one time, then off to find to the next great deal,” Smith says. “With our card, though, the course gets that customer back time and time again, giving them the chance to earn them as a customer for life.”
Card sales are all conducted through the company’s website, TeetoGreenClub.com, where golfers can choose from a variety of courses, and compare the different combinations of free and discounted benefits offered by each course to find the one that works best for them. Tee to Green Golf Club also helps market participating courses through a weekly radio show on Portland’s KXL, and plans to launch a simulcast on Comcast Sports Net in 2013 — both elements they hope to replicate in the Seattle market.
“We go hand in hand with supporting what the PGA 2.0 program stated last year, that we need to rebuild the golf industry,” says Smith. “Several high school programs are closing because they don’t have the funding. Our card is a way to help change that, while also providing benefits to golf courses and golfers as well.”