Resource Center - Play Golf America

Program: FAMILY

Program Description
Golf Curriculum
Admin Tips
Marketing and PR
Measuring Success

Golf Curriculum

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Program Description & Considerations
The Curriculum - Orientation
The Curriculum - Instruction
Kids Play Free Month
Family Fun Time
Family Golf Classes
Family "New to Golf" Day
Family Leagues and Events
Other Events


With “Family Obligations” being listed as one of the top reasons of why people don’t play golf, it is important that every golf course offers “family-friendly” programs.

While many of America’s golf facilities offer golf instruction programs and playing opportunities for junior golfers, few provide programs for the parents of these juniors. Through family golf programs, golf facilities can cater to both groups.

In addition to growing immediate business and revenue at a facility, there are several other benefits to hosting family programs.

  • Great way to increase participation in adult lessons by getting non-golfing family members involved
  • Great way to introduce juniors to golf and fill junior classes
  • Great opportunity to fill off-peak afternoon rounds
  • Great way to be recognized in the community as the place where families can go to spend time together
  • Great way to get media recognition by hosting family events
  • Being recognized as a leader in the community for ongoing commitment to making the community a better place to live

By far, those that include the three elements of marketing and orientations, instruction programs, and follow up leagues and events have the highest return of success with family programs. Following, is information for conducting successful family events and programs. In addition to marketing ideas and a sample curriculum for families new to golf, the end of the document contains best practices shared by golf professionals across the nation. Incorporate the listed programs, and grow your business

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Program Descriptions & Considerations

Target Audience – The “Family” lesson programs are specifically designed to introduce family members to the game of golf in a non-threatening, non-intimidating way. Not only does this program benefit public facilities by increasing rounds and revenue, but with less than 50 percent of private club members actually playing golf, “Family” programs offer private facilities a way to introduce non-golfing family members to the game of golf.

Purpose – The purpose of “Family” programs is to introduce golf as an activity that the entire family can enjoy. Families will get to spend time together, in a great outdoor environment, having fun, and creating lifelong memories. Therefore the program should introduce family members to basic golf swing fundamentals, game playing strategies, simplified rules and etiquette, and how to get around the golf course. In addition to instruction on the practice facility and in the classroom, it is important that “Family” programs incorporate on-course playing time with the instructor.

Pricing – Recommended pricing should fall within $49 - $149 per person. Included in the price is instruction, range balls, green fees/cart fees for supervised play time, and clubs if needed. Consider also including, light refreshments as well as prizes and/or give-aways for the scramble events. Strategic, affordable pricing is a must for attracting families to try the game.

Student/Teacher Ratio – The student teacher ratio suggested is 6:1 with the possibility of going higher. Factors concerning ratio would be: instructor experience of teaching groups, facility accommodations, and equipment availability. The curriculum that follows illustrates the opportunities of teaching juniors and adults simultaneously, yet separately. Adults are instructed and work on their game, while juniors nearby are instructed and work on their game. At times there will be interaction with the two groups, particularly during the last class which takes place on the golf course with everyone playing together.

Marketing the Program – It is important to take the time and consider the options available for promoting the “Family” programs at the facility. Like any business – and this is a business – if the programs are to succeed, there must be a marketing plan in place and marketing must be done consistently.

Here are some basic marketing tips to get your started:

  • Marketing will only be effective if the consumer has a positive first time encounter with the personnel, facility, or program. For example, if a marketing campaign promises a “fun, friendly and safe atmosphere,” but the person answering the phone for lesson inquiries is gruff and has a short attention span, the opportunity for filling classes will be minimized. The marketing promise was not fulfilled. This leads to the next bullet point:
  • Train, educate, and inform all of the staff at the facility about the family programs offered. Everyone should be able to provide answers to basic questions (i.e., price, time, length of program, instructor name, etc…) about the family programs offered. The staff should also be able to register students on the spot or at the very least direct them to to sign up online. Coach the staff on answering questions about the program in a friendly, informative, and non-intimidating way.
  • Display marketing materials in high traffic areas at the facility. A large percent of students say that they found out about the programs from on-course signage. Whether they themselves visited the facility, or a friend or family member playing at the facility picked up a brochure, schedule and/or flyer about the programs.
  • All marketing collateral must be in good condition and clean. No copies of a copy of a copy. No copy machine roller streaks or faded ink.
  • If possible, no handwritten signage.
  • Market where families congregate (I.e. bowling alleys, other sports venues, libraries, pizza parlors, local parks, beaches, church, schools, local YMCA, etc….).
  • Word of mouth is another major source for new students. Therefore, the program offered must exceed the customers’ expectations. Also, don’t be afraid to come right out and ask for referrals. Consider giving incentives for referrals (i.e., refer a family and receive $5 worth of range balls for every family member that signs up).
  • Professionals and facility staff must always present themselves in a professional manner. They must be well groomed and dressed accordingly. This is just as important as any marketing material displayed. They also must be seen as fun, friendly, and non-intimidating.

For a detailed list of marketing opportunities in your community, click on “Program Tool Kit” found in the “Resource Center.” Under the “Family” category, click on “Marketing and PR.” Then click on “Community Marketing” for a list of ideas and tips. Check out other resources available to you under “Marketing and PR” including downloadable flyers, brochures, newspaper ad templates, posters and banners. Also found under “Family,” click on “Admin Tips” for additional tools and resources that will not only help you market your program, but help you manage your program as well.

Facility Preparation and Considerations – Prior to hosting “Family” programs at the facility, it is important that preparations have been made in advance supporting the instructor’s and students’ needs. Here is a brief list of suggestions for preparing the facility for classes and events.

  • Have a check-in area established with personnel available to greet students and direct them to the appropriate meeting place.
  • Have nametags available for students.
  • Safety should be taken into consideration when setting up lesson areas. Student stalls should be well defined using rope, chalk lines, direction boards, or other means available. Since dealing with juniors as well as adults, it is important that the staff recognizes potential safety issues. Train your staff on specific safety techniques when working with juniors (i.e., when juniors are not hitting balls, the club must be in “cane” position…).
  • Create an action plan in advance on how the staff is to deal with unruly juniors.
  • Set up “Reserved” signs in advance to designate lesson area. This minimizes the need of having to ask other customers to relocate from the lesson area.
  • Balls should be set up and available in advance. Keep additional balls available on hand.
  • Balls should be clean and in good condition.
  • Instruction area should be clean and free of debris.
  • Have clubs available for student use (adult and junior clubs).
  • Have plenty of tees available.
  • Consider having towelettes, bug spray, sun block, and Band-Aids available.
  • Have chairs available for students.
  • Coordinate the class with the tee sheet to make sure that tee times are available to take the class out on the golf course.

See page 14 in your “First Swing Professional’s Guide” for more suggestions on equipment needs.

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The Curriculum - Orientation

The curriculum and activities listed in the “First Swing Professional’s Guide” have been tried, tested, and proven to be successful. Following the suggested teaching format described in the guide, provides a fun, systematic approach to getting new golfers playing and out on the golf course as quickly as possible. And although, the curriculum and materials have already been created, you can customize them to meet your facility and program’s needs.

It is highly recommended that ALL “First Swing” family students attend a complimentary “Family” Orientation prior to starting the actual golf instruction classes. The Orientation is usually one-hour to two-hours in length and introduces students to some of the basic segments of the game, including:

  • Tour of the Facility
  • Location and use of the “bag drop” area at the facility.
  • How to make a tee time reservation.
  • How to check in for a tee time reservation.
  • Where and how to get range balls.
  • Where and how to get a golf car.
  • How to obtain rental clubs if needed.
  • Where the snack shop/restaurant is.
  • Where the restrooms are.
  • Where the practice facility is.
  • Where the first tee is.
  • Golf car procedures (i.e. driving a golf car, gas versus electric, how to secure a golf bag on a golf car, golf car safety rules, where to park and drive a golf car, etc….).
  • Golf etiquette
  • Facility policies on what to wear (i.e., no tank tops or T-shirts, no cut-off jeans, what shoes can be worn on the golf course, etc…).
  • What to bring (i.e., umbrella, glove(s), balls, divot tool, ball markers, towel, sunblock, bug spray, etc…).
  • Tipping recommendations for golf facility staff.
  • Rules of the facility (i.e., no gambling, no swearing, no fishing, etc…).

During the Orientation, instructors should set the expectation to play, emphasizing that the goal of the “First Swing” family program is to get families out on the golf course playing golf. The Orientation should be conducted in a fun format which emphasizes that golf IS a FUN game.

Finally, in addition to using the Orientation as a marketing opportunity towards families that have not committed to any golf classes yet, it can also be used as a marketing vehicle to those that have already signed up for classes by suggesting they bring a friend or family member that might be interested in learning golf as well. The advantage to the participants is that they can take classes with friends or family members. The advantage to the instructors is the opportunity of additional signups for your classes.

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Instruction for Families New to Golf

The “First Swing Professional’s Guide” will be your primary instructional resource. It includes information on lesson planning and presentation, as well as operating your instructional program. This guide can be used for junior programs as well as adults. Refer to this guide often for tips and ideas on how to conduct a successful “First Swing” lesson program at your facility.

Alternately, the “First Swing Golfer’s Guide” will provide your students a resource that describes golf skill fundamentals, basic rules and strategies, and golf course etiquette. This guide compliments the teaching methods and programs outlined in the “First Swing Professional’s Guide.”

In addition to the new “First Swing” adult program, the new “First Swing for Juniors” guide and “A Summary of the Rules of Golf” guide are also available. Filled with helpful hints and tips, these guides compliment any junior instruction program. Other resources available are Junior I.D. Cards, Certificates of Achievement, marketing posters, Flag Kits, Tee Marker Pylons and Short Flying Distance Balls. To place and order or to see what’s available, click on the link to download the “First Swing” order form.

"First Swing Order Form"

The classes offered should be a blend of instruction on the practice facilities, on-course supervised play, and opportunities for 3, 6 or 9-hole scrambles. Features should also include complimentary range balls as well as complimentary use of clubs during lessons and practice times.

Pages 29 and 30 in the “First Swing Professional’s Guide” suggests a Sample Lesson Outline for Beginning Instruction. The format is broken down into sixteen one-hour lessons. However, with “lack of time” being one of the major reasons that people leave the game or don’t try it, consider condensing the sixteen hour program into four two-hour group classes. Create and customize an instruction program using the items listed in the “First Swing Professional’s Guide.”

A possible lesson format based on four two-hour classes has been provided below. The components used are found in the “First Swing Professional’s Guide” on pages 29 through 31:

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Following is a list of best practices and ideas that can be implemented. Be sure to schedule your family golf events on and take advantage of the national marketing campaign. Start your programs as soon as possible and enjoy the benefits of bringing families together at your facility.

Kids Play Free Month

Offering a “Kids Play Free Month” program at your facility can be a great way to introduce golf as a family activity, while at the same time growing your business and revenue.

Designate off-peak times at your facility when juniors can play free if accompanied by a full paying adult. For example:

In the month of July, Monday through Thursday after 5:00pm and Friday through Sunday after 6:00pm, kids can play free with each accompanied full paying adult.

You’ll expose more families to your facility and will benefit from ancillary spending on food and beverage, merchandise and other products and services offered at your facility.

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Family Fun Time

Once a week, host a family fun time at your facility. This time is dedicated to bringing families out and exposing your facility as a “family friendly” place. Implement all or some of the following options. Create some of your own:

  • Designate a specific day of the week as “family day.”
  • Block off a portion of time that is dedicated specifically for family activities.
  • Conduct a free orientation to the facility and game.
  • Set up three, six, or nine holes on the golf course with “short course tees” for juniors or beginning family members to play from. This will enhance their enjoyment of the game by making it easier, and create opportunities for some competitive fun with family members who already play the game. Example: Dad can play from the back tees, mom can play from the forward tees, and juniors can play from the “short course tees.”
  • Offer “Complimentary” range balls during the specified time.
  • Consider having instructors available to give tips and advice at the practice range.

Here is an example of a possible “Family Fun Time:”

Offer “Family Fun Time” every Saturday from 3:00pm – 5:00pm. Families can enjoy complimentary range balls during that time and/or they may elect to play three, six, or nine holes of golf. Juniors play free when accompanied by a full paying adult. A nice touch might be to have available instructors walk the tee-line during that time and offer free tips and advice. Make sure the beverage cart stops by often at the driving range and on the golf course. Offer a 10% discount in the golf shop to participants within the designated time frame.

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Family Golf Classes

Do you notice parents waiting around during their children’s golf lessons? Then here is an opportunity to get them involved as well. Schedule and offer parent golf lessons at the same time.

Here is an example of how this works:

Host a junior class on Saturday afternoons from 2:00pm – 3:00pm. Offer the parents the opportunity to take lessons at the same time in a separate class. Classes should run for four to six weeks. At the conclusion of each week’s instruction program, bring the parents and junior golfers together and head out to a golf hole near the clubhouse or practice area and demonstrate on-course behavior that ties back to instruction covered during that particular session. An example of this would be to review on-course behavior on the green upon concluding instruction on putting. On the last day of class, have the parents and juniors play golf together on the course. This is a great opportunity to get families to play golf together while making your golf course an option for family fun.

A variation to this might be to offer “Parent/Junior” classes. Parents and juniors take the classes together. This could create opportunities for some additional fun such as: “beat-the-parent” contests; kids teach parents; parent/junior teams “beat-the-pro” contests; etc…

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Family "New to Golf" Day

Host a free “Family New to Golf” day every other month or once a quarter. The event is typically about two-hours long and offers clinics to families with an opportunity to sign up for family golf classes. This is a great opportunity to expose families to the facility as well as a great opportunity for filling scheduled golf classes.

Suggested format is:


  • Market the event starting about one month prior to the event date.
  • Post your events online using the Play Golf America Resource Center’s Event Registration tool.
  • Get media coverage and press releases for your event. Let the media know that this is a complimentary family event and that it introduces golf to the community. Utilize the PGA News Bureau for tips on public relations and media relations.
  • Create flyers utilizing the templates in the Program Tool Kit and post them throughout the golf facility.
  • Post flyers at the local retail golf shops and at any retail store.
  • Get the local businesses involved by having them donate prizes. In return, their names will be mentioned at the event. Perhaps, let them set up a table in return for their donation.
  • Put flyers out at local YMCA, Public Library, other sporting facilities, schools, malls, etc.
  • Have a signup sheet available in the golf shop and behind the counter so that staff can sign people up as they call.

Prepping for Event

  • Start making calls or sending e-mails two days in advance to all of the people who have signed up for the event. Confirm that they are coming and let them know what to wear and bring.
  • Have name tags, pencils, markers, alphabetized participant roster, and raffle tickets for door prizes available, available for event.
  • Have enough personnel available for the event.
  • Meet with all personnel and assign responsibilities.
  • Coordinate with Greens Superintendent to make sure facility is set up the way it needs to be.
  • If serving food, coordinate menus and prices with Food and Beverage Manager.
  • Have enough schedules and brochures created to distribute on the day of the event.
  • Use the Registration Form in the Program Tool Kit and have available for everyone to fill out capturing their name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and other pertinent information.

Day of the Event

  • Have everything set up and ready to go at least one-half hour prior to the start time.
  • Have staff at the registration table an hour prior to the start time. Have every participant fill out the Registration Form.
  • Have someone dedicated to take pictures of the event. Use these pictures for marketing your next event. Designated photographer should take pictures of families having a good time and instruction staff helping individuals.
  • Have three instructional stations available
    1. Full Swing
    2. Putting
    3. Chipping/Pitching
  • A suggested schedule format is as follows:
    1. Fifteen minutes for introductions and setting up expectations for the day.
    2. Ninety minutes for clinics (twenty-five minutes at each station with a five minute gap to move people to the next station.)
    3. Fifteen minutes for wrap-up, raffle prizes and opportunity to make a presentation and have people sign up for classes that you offer.

Be sure to designate someone as a time keeper to let the professionals know when to rotate participants.

  • Script the presentation for whoever is going to do the introduction and wrap-up. This assures that all of the main points are covered.
  • Consider offering golf class discounts for everyone who has participated that day (i.e. $20 off of a multi-week family golf instruction program).
  • Let participants know that instructors and/or personnel will be hanging around after the event to answer questions and to sign people up for classes.

Post Event

  • Send “Thank You” notes to everyone who participated. To those that came to the event but didn’t sign up for any classes, offer to extend the discount until the end of the week.
  • Create a “Thank You” letter for all of the employees at the club that assisted in the event. Distribute it to everyone who helped and post it on employee bulletin boards.
  • Send “Thank You” letters to all of the local businesses that donated prizes for the event.
  • Create a collage with the pictures taken at the event. Post this collage in the facility or online with some type of caption like, “June Family New-to-Golf Day! Come join the fun at our next one!”
  • Send out e-mails to past participates on a weekly or monthly basis notifying them of upcoming activities and special promotions. Consider including electronic coupons when appropriate.
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Family Leagues and Events

There are endless opportunities for family leagues and golf events at your facility. These are a great way to increase play at your facility and to grow revenue. In addition, as mentioned earlier, it is a great way to be recognized in your community as a “family-friendly place.” Following are some suggestions to get you started:

Weekly Leagues

Host weekly family leagues. Leagues can be three, six, or nine holes in length. Set up the golf course so that there are “short course” tees available for juniors and parents who are new to golf. Make them fun and exciting in a non-competitive style. Get the community involved by having local businesses donate gifts and prizes. Conduct them in scramble or alternate shot formats. Suggested ideas:

  • Father/Son, Mother/Daughter, Father/Daughter, Mother/Son
  • Mixed parent/junior format (parent from one family plays with a child from another).
  • Grandparent/Grandchild format
  • Senior/Junior format
  • Create a themed format around the holidays:
    • Halloween Night – Wear a costume and receive a free gift. Give prize for best costume. Give out free candy to everyone who attends.
    • Mother’s/Father’s day – Give a gift to every mom, dad, or grandparent on their special day (i.e. flower, sleeve of golf balls, tee packs with divot tool, etc…).
    • Thanksgiving – Everyone receives a gift certificate for a free turkey
    • Christmas – Everyone brings in a gift for a local charity like “Toys for Tots.” Everyone who brings a gift in receives a coupon for a free bucket of balls.
    • St. Patrick’s Day – Everyone who wears green receives a box of Lucky Charms cereal.

Monthly Event

Host a monthly nine-hole or eighteen-hole event. Include food, prizes and gifts. In addition to standard golf outing formats, use some of the holiday theme ideas mentioned above or create your own themes. The idea is to make the events fun and become known in your community as a place where families can come and have fun together. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • As mentioned above, create monthly events themed on important holidays (see list under weekly leagues for some ideas).
  • Set up a tournament that requires hitting a tee shot with various props. For example:
    • First hole – Tee off using a baseball bat
    • Second hole – Tee off using a tennis racquet
    • Third hole – Tee off using a shovel
    • Fourth hole – Tee off using a hockey stick
    • Fifth hole – etc…
  • Host a mini-Ryder Cup Match style tournament. First six-holes play alternating shots; second six-holes play scramble format; final six holes play best ball. It doesn’t need to be competitive, just an opportunity to play different formats.
  • Have a Cayman ball tournament. Purchase some Cayman balls and shorten the course.
  • Host a Three Club event – Families can only use a putter and two other clubs of their choice.
  • Host a “Back to School” event. Every junior receives school products (i.e., pencils, erasers, notebook, ruler, etc….).
  • Host an “Off for Summer” event. Every junior receives beach products (i.e., bucket of beach sand toys, "Floatee" tubes, squirt guns, etc…).
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Other Events

Conduct other events at your facility that may not necessarily be golf related. Use them as vehicles to get the word out about the family programs that your facility has to offer. For example:

  • Host a “Fourth of July Fireworks” show at your facility, complete with picnic foods, three-legged races, Tug-O’-War, potato sack races, games, etc…
  • Host an “Easter Egg” hunt and have the Easter Bunny visit your facility.
  • Have Santa come and visit during the Christmas holidays.
  • Create a family fun day by having face painters, balloon makers, clowns, bands, magicians, comedians, kid characters, etc… Many times you can get various local talents that are trying to break into the entertainment business to volunteer their time or perhaps they “Will work for food!” Invite local businesses that cater to families to participate in return for donating prizes for the event.
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Conduct some or all of these events at your facility and enjoy the success they bring for you, your staff, and your facility. It will be a great experience for you and your staff bringing families together and introducing golf as a family fun option that can be enjoyed by all. At the same time, you will be growing the game of golf as well as growing a loyal following at your facility. The benefits will not only be creating more golfers by bringing families to your facility, but creating more revenue opportunities as well.

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