Spirit Golf Management

Bridging the Golf Gap from Gym to Course

by Mike Attara on May 3, 2013

When the PGA asked several sections in the country to pilot a program for the PGA Junior League Golf, Eagle Ridge Golf Club was ready. The concept wasn’t new to Eagle Ridge or Mike Attara, PGA Professional and founder of Spirit Golf, because they had already established a junior golf team that had been active for several years.  One of Mike’s goals as Chairman of the Golf in Schools committee for the NJGF has been to establish a link between middle school students who were being introduced to the game in their gym class and actually getting interested students on the local courses.

Eagle Ridge PGA  Junior League Golf in action.

Eagle Ridge PGA Junior League Golf in action.

The New Jersey Golf Foundation had already helped in achieving this goal in Brick Township, NJ.  Gary Paxton, a middle school teacher and advocate for the NJ Golf in Schools program, worked with Mike and his team to establish a program that brought interested students directly to the course. Having an established NJGF Golf in Schools Program lead to the development of a small grant that funded the intramural golf program for a group of students from the middle school.   With the funding in place to cover some of the instruction, course fees and practice balls, the PGA staff at Eagle Ridge were able to give these students an on course learning experience they may not otherwise have had.

Eagle Ridge already had several groups of interested young golfers including the Brick students and the Eagle Ridge Junior League players who had already been playing together in a league format. They even had a coach.  Teaching professional, Rylee Plitz had already been acting as the coach of the Eagle Ridge junior golf team so it was pretty easy for her to round up a dozen players for PGA Junior League Golf.

If you want to build a junior golf program and grow your business, an excellent way to start is to get involved in the PGA Junior League Golf.  This year the PGA is expanding the program throughout the country. If you happen to be lucky enough to be in NJ or another Section with a foundation like the NJGF then there is help out there for you to establish a junior golf league at your club or maybe a golf in school program in your community.

To take golf to the next level, we need to establish golf in school programs like we have done in New Jersey on a national level.  Then we need to build on that program by creating a bridge to our local courses that students and their families can easily walk across using programs like the PGA Junior League Golf. This year we are excited to be fielding two teams from Eagle Ridge Golf Club.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or to learn more about how we have established our golf in schools and PGA Junior League Golf Teams.

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Golf Range Magazine named Makefield Highlands Golf Club in Lower Makefield Township one of the top 50 ranges in the country.  Makefield Highlands was recently honored at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando Florida in the “on course” category.

“Spirit Golf is proud of the effort of our entire staff for making this award possible” says Mike Attara, President of Spirit Golf Management.  “Since taking over management of the facility, the goal for Makefield was to enhance the course’s position in the community.  The Rick Jacobson designed course was already a popular choice to play and the range was always busy, but we wanted to take the experience to another level.”

Makefield Highlands Golf Club

Makefield Highlands Golf Club

Improvements included automating the range ball dispensing, improving the short game area and re-turfing and marking the targets to give a true sense of on course targets.

Most importantly, the Golf Academy, lead by PGA Professional Bob Doria and PGA Director of Instruction Ed Gibson, established the programming and activities that helped reach these outreach goals.  Some of these programs included offering short rounds, such as 3 & 6 hole rounds late in the day as part of the driving range experience. Players could hit a bucket of balls and for just a few dollars more head out and play a 3 or 6 hole loop that brought them right back to the range.  In addition, Get Golf Ready Classes continued to grow traction in the community especially in women and junior classes.

Bob Doria, PGA General Manager, says the success of the range was a snowball effect. “Mike challenged us to establish a strong player development program at Makefield Highlands and after we started offering and posting our Academy programs online, we saw a real surge in the number of students in our classes. Our Director of Instruction, Ed Gibson, did an excellent job of building the Academy class schedules and creating a fun environment for our students to learn the game or make improvements to their swing.  This year all of our programs will be online on the PGA’s Active Golf website. The new site allows our students the convenience to register and pay for classes on the website.”

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Collaboration on the Field and on the Course

by Mike Attara on September 19, 2012

When The Lakewood BlueClaws players are not on the baseball field, they like to be on the golf course.  The players were happy to share their love of the game with their youngest fans at Eagle Ridge Golf Club.

It was a great afternoon as Eagle Ridge golf pros and BlueClaws baseball players came together to show how golf and baseball are very similar in some ways and different in others. PGA Magazine took a closer a look at this collaboration.

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This past week I was featured in PGA Magazine’s Best Practice section. The questions and answers are below.

As seen in PGA Magazine 3/10/12:

Mike Attara on Player Development: Use Online Registration to Grow Your Database
Mike Attara, a five-time New Jersey PGA Section President’s Plaque winner and the 2005 New Jersey PGA Section Merchandiser for Public Facilities, is a PGA Certified Professional and president of Spirit Golf Management in Yardley, Pa.

Mike Attara on the importance of using online registration to grow your database:
Our management company oversees four golf facilities, and all of them host player development and Play Golf America programs. Registration for all of these programs is handled online using the www.PlayGolfAmerica.com website. In fact, using the online registration capabilities of Play Golf America is so easy and successful that we use it for registration for all of our programs: Family Fridays, leagues, instruction clinics, and anything else we offer to the public. It only takes a few minutes to get your facility and its programs on the Play Golf America website; the site walks you through the process. This makes registration easy for the consumer and for us, and it also helps us compile and grow a large database of golfers that we can market to. Once we have golfers in our database, it’s easy to shoot them a quick email about anything from a new program we’re offering to a rain delay that might impact that day’s events.

Mike Attara on the business impact of using online registration to grow your database:
We have more than 4,000 names in our database, and it is a very effective way to market to our customers. Once a golfer has been to your facility and started a relationship with you, they’re going to open emails that come from you. We’ve been able to save money on advertising because of the large number of golfers we can reach through our database. It also offers a lot of convenience to the consumer: When a parent gets an email about registering for an upcoming junior camp, they can go online and register right away before the camps fill up. In this business, you have to create your own opportunities. Using the Play Golf America website for registrations creates growth opportunities in an easy, cost-effective manner that provides both the PGA Member and the facility with new revenue opportunities.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments at mikea@spiritgolf.net

Spirit Golf Management. Growing the game one course at a time.

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Golf 2.0 is off and running and if we all do our part as an industry, this strategy can really make an impact on 61 million lapsed golfers. It can also help us drive new players to the game and retain the existing core golfers.

The PGA Merchandise Show was the official kick off for the industries’ Strategic Player Development Program.  Jack Nicklaus provided opening remarks on the first day, showing his support and excitement for this new program.

It was great to be a part of the introduction of Golf 2.0.   I am on the national committee for this program and spoke at the show on how to retain our beginner players. I was honored to share my insights on a subject that is critical in today’s golf industry.

During that hour presentation, I presented many different ideas on how to engage and retain new players. I talked about how to break down the barriers that keep people from engaging in the game of golf; barriers like time, money, lifestyle and difficulty of the game. You have to create the right program to make these players comfortable and then market it to them using the right venue.

Sherri McDonald, PGA Teaching Pro at Eagle Ridge Golf Course, talks on behalf of Spirit Golf Management. Note Eagle Ridge Golf Club on the graphic visual.

Sherri McDonald, Director of Instruction at Eagle Ridge Golf Club, presented on the PGA Forum Stage as part of the Play Golf America Conference. Sherri shared best practices and case studies from Eagle Ridge Golf Club. Sherri is second from the right in the photo below.

It was good to see so many people in the golf industry paying attention to what we, at Spirit Golf Management, have always been focused on, engaging the public. Creating the right player development programs and finding ways to engage customers in your specific  local community are key in growing the game of golf and right now these concepts have everyone’s attention.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments at mikea@spiritgolf.net

Spirit Golf Management.  Growing the game one course at a time.

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