Get Golf Ready misses goal, but delivers ROI

Get Golf Ready is designed to create avid golfers like the ones above who test – and more importantly – buy equipment more frequently.

Get Golf Ready is designed to create avid golfers like the ones above who test – and more importantly – buy equipment more frequently.

A national effort to grow the game is creating golfers who spend more than $800 during the first year of pursuing their new passion.

But to the disappointment of organizers, Get Golf Ready is attracting far fewer participants than projected – reaching only 51 percent of the goal it set when the industry-funded program was unveiled in late 2008.

In its first full year in 2009, Get Golf Ready enrolled nearly 17,800 participants in its affordably priced group lessons that “graduate” golfers quickly to golf courses rather than make them drill laboriously at practice ranges. Organizers expected 35,000 participants, based on 700 facilities each recruiting 50 students.

Initially, program leaders were buoyed by the fact that nearly 1,200 courses had been certified to offer Get Golf Ready. But only 712 submitted participation reports and just the data included in them were used for the first-year evaluation. Though 101 golf courses enrolled at least 50 participants, facilities, on average, had about 25 students.

“It’s a lot lower than we thought,” said Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation, which oversees the initiative. Considering the limited reporting, Mona said it is possible participation numbers actually were greater. But he added, the WGF is “pledged to deliver real numbers.”

Cathy Harbin, the program’s director, says the participation goals aren’t overly ambitious, citing the many golf courses that achieved them. Improving such numbers, she says, is a matter of encouraging the remaining facilities to “fully engage” in Get Golf Ready.

Counting only those who completed the curriculum and continued playing, Get Golf Ready created 9,217 golfers. Though the yield was less than expected, Mona insists the program’s financial supporters received a solid return on their investment: Get Golf Ready, which spent $743,000, created golfers who cumulatively infused $7.4 million into the golf economy. A survey of program graduates revealed each golfer spent an average of $806 on the sport, including green fees, equipment and apparel. Nearly 90 percent played an average of 10.8 rounds.

Other findings:

• 93 percent visited a practice range an average of 8.6 times

• 27 percent took an average of 3.7 lessons

• 87 percent purchased equipment

• 71 percent purchased apparel

Taking into account when students completed the program and the time they were surveyed, Mona said the results are more impressive because they reflect activity that occurred mostly within three to five months rather than the entire year.

“A number of these people got bit by the bug,” Mona said. “They became avid very quickly.”

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