The other day, I was in a club’s carpark, changing my shoes and packing up the clubs after a round of golf, when I overheard a couple of players walking back to their cars, discussing what I can only assume was a disappointing day on the links.

“I certainly won’t be rushing back to play this course again,” one of them said.

“Nup,” the partner responded, shaking his head. “No way.  Shocking.”

In hindsight, I regret not walking over to them and following up to see specifically what had perturbed them (alas, my mind was elsewhere at that moment, as were my shoes). So it will, unfortunately, remain a great unexplained mystery that will fester in the dark, dusty, unexplored junk-room of my brain.

The real tragedy with this, however, is that the club itself will also likely remain in the dark regarding the poor experience of these two customers, for (as far as I can tell) there was no process in place for collection of feedback.

As I thought more about it, I realised that I have almost never been asked to fill out a post-round feedback form at a golf course. Sure, I’ve been queried, in passing, by the proshop/staff at a number of friendly courses/clubs “So…how’d you go out there?”. But I can’t recall the last time I was handed an official feedback form after my round, or sent a follow-up email with a survey link, etc.

Surveys and feedback are the lifeblood of any business, especially those (like golf) in the hospitality industry. Yet it’s almost unheard of in golf.

In truth, there are probably a heap of golf courses/clubs out there that are chugging along with no idea that anything is wrong with their product/service. And they may not realise it until it’s too late (when the problem bites them in the bum.)

It’s a common understanding in business that if we don’t fix the problems/mistakes with our product/service, we are doomed to repeat them. It’s also well known that, while a happy customer won’t feel the need to tell many people about their good experience, a disgruntled/unhappy customer will actively tell EVERYBODY. (I know this first-hand; a horrible recent experience with Jetstar comes to mind).

This doesn’t just apply to visitors/guests. It’s also critical when it comes to members. Many clubs (and particularly their boards) make plenty of decisions (and implement processes) without truly knowing what the members actually want. Sometimes it works out just fine. Other times, however, the results can be disastrous.

It’s not that hard to set up a survey with just one or two questions, asking things like “A) In your opinion, what did we do right?, and B) What are one or two things we can do to improve our course/club/service to ensure a better experience?”.  This accomplishes two things for your business: it helps you identify and boost your product’s true strengths, while also shoring up its main weaknesses (while uncovering any unknown/unreported problems.)

It may be as easy as handing out a slip of paper (or card) with the player’s scorecard at the beginning of a round (for depositing in a suggestion box after the round), or simply pointing players to the link of an online survey via your website. It doesn’t have to be pretty or graphically designed, it just needs to give the players/customers an opportunity to share an opinion (and give you data/statistics to make informed decisions). Plus, if you do it yourself via a website like SurveyMonkey, it won’t cost your club a penny. It could even be done publicly via social media (assuming you are prepared to have an open and honest discussion for the entire world to see.)

Most importantly, however, is that it should be done. And (if possible), do it as soon as possible after a round (to ensure the experience is fresh in the player’s mind.)

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback! (see what I did there?).

Drop me an email any time, or grab me in the carpark (just make sure I’m wearing my shoes first).

See you on the fairways,


About Richard Fellner

A four-time winner of the Australian Golf Media Awards, including Best Photojournalism, Best Opinion, Best Column and Best Photographic Presentation, Inside Golf Group Editor Richard Fellner is the quintessential Golf Tragic, having played the game for over 50 years (but has never gotten any better!) He has played and reviewed courses all over the world, and has interviewed many of the great players of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman). Richard is a member of both the Australian Golf Media Association and the Golf Society of Australia, and has been a featured guest on many Australian "sports talk" radio shows and networks, including ABC Grandstand, SEN 1116, Melbourne Talk Radio 1377, 2GB and others. Follow Richard Fellner on Quora


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