April 1st has always been an important day on the calendar, not because of the practical jokes, but because where I grew up in Illinois it was the first day the golf course was officially open! So here we are on the official opening of the Northern golf season and we’ve got a lot bigger issues facing us in 2009 than deciding when to open the greens for play.

AMF’s goal is to use this blog, our new webinars, upcoming networking/education events, newsletters and email blasts to the members to provide accurate, up-to-date information on as many issues as possible to help you grow your business and your teaching skills in this very difficult economy.

We are going to become more aggressive about getting information in your hands that can help you make better decisions and grow your business. As I said at the PGA Show at our marketing seminar: Golf instructors can no longer be gatherers. We must become hunters. Even if you’re business has steadily grown in the past, it will take twice as much work to add half as many new students in 2009.

As long as you understand this going into the season and make plans to expand your communications through newsletters, email blasts, new group programs and special incentives to drive new players such as junior and families to your lesson tee, you’re going to be fine. But, you have to be proactive. Don’t wait for the season to unfold, start promoting now before the leaves are even on the trees.

If I were a teacher with a season that’s just beginning, I’d plan for every rainy day in April to be an office day where I create lockerroom flyers, newsletter articles, new program announcements, email blasts, etc. If you have a staff, get everyone involved. This can be a group effort to figure out the best opportunities at your facility to create some new golfers and keep the students you have engaged throughout the season.

If you’re smart, you’ll use the recession as inspiration to make 2009 the year you focus on running your teaching business with more planning, better promotion and a variety of new group programs targeting every sub-group possible at your facility including house members, non-golfing spouses and even employees. Even without the recession, we’ve been losing golfers every year for the past decade.

Hey, it’s great that Tiger is back and winning tournaments, but he didn’t bring many new golfers into the game before and he won’t now either. It’s up to every golf pro on the front lines to re-double the effort this year to grow your student base if we’re going to start growing the game again.

Free Marketing Ideas

AMF member John Hughes sent along the link below to 1to1 Magazine. It is a free marketing publication that has a lot of case studies and insights into new media options, customer service, customer loyalty, business trends and many other topics. The site is loaded with information and if you enjoy reading about marketing and you are looking for new inspiration, you may want to sign up at www.1to1media.com

New Rules of Golf Instruction

A quick update on last weeks’ blog entry on the New Rules of Golf Instruction. Charlie King got a nice mention in the Wall Street Journal last week along with a big photo in the weekend print edition. The link – if you’d like to read the article – is below.

The piece talks about a variety of teaching methods and how methods come and go. I’m not sure the article didn’t miss the point. There is nothing wrong with a method. Every teacher has a method or framework they teach within. I sensed that the author felt that any method that has a snappy name attached to it, is only going to be a “flavor of the month” and of little value.

I think the bigger point that was missed is that every method – whether or not it has a marketing budget behind it – needs to be grounded in the principles of physics and physiology and that every teacher needs to be able to clearly communicate and implement their method using training techniques grounded in proven motor learning principles. To just dismiss every method as being less than desirable misses the point, but Charlie’s focus on the students’ needs is right on the mark no matter how you teach the swing.

– Lorin Anderson, Instructor Division Executive Director