19th Hole

Kate Sheppard
Marketing and Social Media Specialist
BlueStar Resort & Golf
Scottsdale, AZ

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Review Culture has Players in the Drivers Seat

At best, the welcome was frosty and you were handed a scorecard, which had seen better days. The bunkers, which you so kindly tested – much to your playing partners’ amusement – were rock hard. And, where the heck was the course ranger to speed up the pace of play?

Just a few years ago, the only option was to mutter to ourselves and vow never to endure that course again. There lay the extent of your review. To compound matters, golf courses were locked in a cycle of same; possibly none-the-wiser to your less than ideal experience. Or worse, simply not motivated to improve. Why? Because there were no forums to share candid feedback and thus they had a firm grip on how their course was perceived.

Fast forward to today and the dramatic increase in social media use – by all ages – has provided golfers a powerful platform from which to speak up, call-out their experiences and have a real impact on where their fellow players choose to spend their dollar. That’s motivation enough for any golf course operator to implement change, and we all, as golfers, are the ones who benefit.

Digital word of mouth continues to flourish on social channels. Golf Advisor alone reported that close to half a million players have submitted reviews of golf courses from all over the world.  Effectively, we as players – qualified or not – have been handed the influential role of reporter, critic and champion. As more and more players continue to make their decisions based on reviews from likeminded golfers, courses can see the tremendous value in achieving five-star public approval alongside more traditional industry accolades.

“If this course isn’t on your bucket list, it should be,” wrote one Golf Advisor fan in reviewing their round at Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club. So highly valued is public opinion that an entire advertising campaign was shaped around that one phrase. And it worked (and will continue to work so long as the club keeps providing praise-worthy experiences).

Operators are telling you that your experience matters. So write, post photos, share anecdotes, praise liberally and be constructive with your critiques. Who knows, you could be featured in the next big golf campaign!

Kate Sheppard is the Marketing and Social Media Specialist with Scottsdale-based BlueStar Resort & Golf, a management group with courses in the state and throughout the country.