It might be the most uttered comment by golf course superintendents over the last 10 years, “We’re constantly faced with doing more with less resources.”
While that might be a euphemism for the challenge of spending less money to provide quality playing conditions, leading golf course accessory companies say facilities can actually do more with less through a prudent replacement and renovation program for golf course accessories.
“One thing we’ve been trying to communicate is just how inexpensive it is to improve the look and condition of your facility through a small investment,” says Dan Brown, sales and marketing manager at Par Aide Products Co. “For less than $700 you can equip your course with new cups, flags and flagsticks, and the improvement is seen dramatically and immediately.”
According to a Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) operations survey, the average annual golf course accessory budget is $4,901 for 18-hole courses and $2,119 for nine-hole operations. But that’s a small slice of the pie, lending company officials to warn facility leaders against being pennywise and pound foolish.
“I think we get in the cutting back mindset and almost become paralyzed by it,” states Paul Cherrie, president of Eagle One Golf Products. “I liken it to clothing. You have a suit that is a little worn and you wear the same bland tie and it looks tired, but you take that same suit and pair it with a tie that really stands out and you have improved your looks significantly without spending a lot of money.”
Accessory companies are cognizant that they can’t just focus on the aesthetics these products provide. The product line must also help improve efficiency at the course, attract golfers and/or provide a means for sponsorships and thus drive revenue for facilities.
Jim Nygren, the former director of marketing/sales at Standard Golf Inc., notes that he’s seeing an increasing demand for the 8-inch cups that have become popular for special events and for indoctrinating new golfers into the game. He adds that signage, which always has been an important component of Standard’s product line, is becoming more strategic in helping golfers navigate the course and provide information that will help them enjoy the game more.
“We have a role in growing the game, so we must help facilities in producing products that will help them do that,” Nygren says. “The bigger cups may not be for every facility, but they do provide an option for those that have a market for them.”
Customization through existing and emerging technology is a recent trend, according to Cherrie. He points to a printing process to create flags for special events – the flags can be given away or auctioned off – and custom tee markers. Some tee markers were so popular that they mysteriously disappeared. One of the more recognized markers is the U.S. Capitol used by Congressional Country Club, which are now sold in the pro shop.
Nygren says events such as the various cancer awareness fundraisers have been enhanced by specially colored accessories, the most popular being the “Pink Out” breast cancer events. He points out that the process of dye sublimation allows Standard to produce one-off flags and other fabric quickly and relative inexpensively.
Brown says the tee cube, a tee marker that can be customized with logos, copy, photos, etc., and used for multiple events by printing out new decals, is popular with Par Aide’s customers.
There’s one product poised to enter the market that might not be considered the typical accessory, but it offers promise for facilities in expanding the hours they’re open. Wes Bishop, business-to-business merchandising manager for Reliable Golf Course Supplies, says the company plans to offer a lighting technology that’s currently used in the ski industry.
“This technology has actually been around since the 1990s,” Bishop says. “Courses can light areas and not face the light pollution concerns, save money in monthly lighting costs, and provide a better visual background for tracking ball flight. Trademarked Golf Bright, the biggest challenge is getting product, as ski facilities are snatching up all available supplies, Bishop notes
“We’re all in this together,” Bishop states. “Companies want to see their customers have success. From an accessory perspective, we know the small things can provide a big shot in the arm.”
Cover photo by Ardaguldogan\Signature\iStock