How to get 50 new members, quickly
In a quiet corner of North East Scotland, PGA Professional, James Calam, has achieved something unprecedented: over 50 new female members in the space of a few weeks.
That number represents over 80% of the women James has introduced to the game through love.golf, the Syngenta-backed group coaching initiative exclusively for women.
But how has he created a member revolution in such a short time? And what advice does he have for those looking to make a similar impact?
Deliver a compelling introduction
“I had witnessed first-hand the impact of love.golf in nearby Fraserburgh, where hundreds of women have been introduced to the game in recent years,” says James.
“To achieve this level of sustained engagement it struck me that you first need to deliver an experience that makes them want to come back time and time again.”
But it also became clear to James that the key to this went beyond the game itself.
“At the first sessions there was a sense of unease. Most of the women hadn’t met before, so my first priority was to create an environment where they felt comfortable and could get to know each other – of course, positioning the love.golf experience as the vehicle for them to do just that.”
Create lasting bonds
With the vast community of love.golfers in Fraserburgh front of mind, James set out to create a movement of his very own at the two clubs he works across, Duff House Royal Golf Club and Turriff Golf Club.
“Support and friendship were in full flow after the first few sessions, at which point I created a WhatsApp group to bring all the women together in one place.”
“Not only was it a tool for me to manage attendance at upcoming sessions, but it fast became a way for participants to arrange separate games and get-togethers with each other.”
Now a thriving community was developing, James turned his attention to the future. What could he do to elevate their commitment beyond group coaching sessions?
Prepare for success
From speaking with his groups, James realized full membership would be a significant commitment at such an early stage. But what did exist, was an appetite to become part of the club, helping to strengthen their ties to it and to one another.
“I worked with both clubs to agree a bespoke membership category, and though there was some reluctance to this at first, I knew it would take time for friendships to take hold and for their relationships with the clubs to become a part of their lives they wouldn’t easily want to say goodbye to.”
The clubs agreed, allowing James to communicate the newly created membership to his love.golf groups, leading to over 50 new members.
With a welcome injection of female members across the two clubs, what does that mean for the future?
“Commercially, the impact has been extremely positive. The challenge now is to keep these women engaged for the long-term.”
Next year, James’ new members will move over to full subscription fees, a shift he believes will test how effective his approach has been.
“Over 50 members paying full fees will be a true measure of success. But I’m confident we can achieve this with the captive audience and community we have created.”
Understand the trigger
What, according to James is the real driver behind the community?
“Friendship. Without a doubt. The love.golf environment and the fact we're out on the golf course in the first session creates a community, and the friendships that blossom keep them coming back.”
“Take my wife, for example. I never thought she would ever pick up a club. But once she tried it, she was hooked. She loves the game, but it’s the friendships it has generated that have had a transformational impact on her life for the better.”
What can you learn from James’ achievements?
- Deliver a compelling first experience for women who are new to the game in an environment that fosters community, camaraderie and friendship.
- Connect women to facilitate communication outside of group sessions and help create lasting bonds between them.
- Prepare your membership offer in advance, make it relevant and specific to customer needs. Engage key stakeholders in the process.
- Think about what you want to achieve. Set targets and think long-term.