Monthly Archives: May 2017

19th Hole Media: Why You Need Facebook AND Instagram To Promote Your Golf Course On Social Media

No. 3 Mission behind the green

With Facebook knocking on the door of 2 BILLION users, most golf courses have figured out they need to have presence there. Meanwhile, Instagram, which is growing faster than Facebook and is now twice the size of Twitter, remains the most neglected social network for reasons that frankly confound and frustrate me.

You need to incorporate BOTH into your social media strategy or you risk missing out on as much as half of your golf audience if not more depending your golf course’s demographics.

In this post, we’ll delve into why a multi-channel strategy is a necessity in today’s social media marketing environment and breakdown the differences between the two and how they can complement each other to give you more complete coverage and reach with your golf audience.

When I pivoted my career toward social media marketing in golf four years ago, the refrain I heard from courses about Facebook was, “Our audience isn’t on there,” largely meaning older golfers don’t use social media. Can you possibly imagine someone saying that today? Well, they are, but now they’re talking about Instagram. Déjà vu, anyone?

There are several differences between the two channels, but the one you need to recognize first and foremost is audience. Most people seem aware Facebook is by far the dominant social channel in a Wal-Mart/NFL/Starbucks sort of way, but what few realize is its fastest growing demographic: Baby boomers. You know them. They’re the generation that largely is still paying the bills for the golf industry.

The generation that is lagging in taking up the game and causing consternation in the industry is millennials. Guess what their preferred network is? Instagram. But when you tell course GMs/marketers, they need to be on Instagram, they’ll give the same audience answer they were giving about Facebook four years ago. Anyone else detect a chicken and egg scenario here?

I largely caution against audience generalizations, but that’s the simple audience assessment of the two channels though Gen X (my generation) is equally prevalent on Instagram as are some boomers, some of whom I know to be quite active and effective on the network.

I have a hunch some Boomer GM’s confuse Instagram with Snapchat, which is mostly for teens and those in their early 20s and has yet to establish itself as a truly business factor. (In fact, a recent study found it to have the worst ROI of all the social media channels.) Such is not the case with Facebook and Instagram, both of whom are quite effective in a business environment when managed and leveraged properly.

Arroyo 18

Two things dictate which channel to use. We’ve talked about audience. The other is content. Some content is simply much more effective on one channel than the other and it’s important to know why.

Facebook is better for longer-format videos, especially since it changed its algorithm to favor video, and written pieces, such as blog posts, whereas Instagram is almost strictly for photos and short-form video (a minute or less). The goal of all social media content is for it to be shareable amongst your friends and following and knowing where to send certain contain will improve your chances.

You can get engagement on Instagram, but that’s more the domain of Facebook, where you’re far more likely to get a discussion going about, say, how to play a certain hole at your course. On Instagram, you’d be more likely to show video for someone playing the hole or a panoramic and hoping it accrues likes and shares.

The apps for both are fairly easy to use, but the filters and other features on Instagram make it especially easy to upload quality photos and videos and thus make it my preferred app. for golf. Rather than encouraging dialogue, you more want to encourage your golfers to share photos and videos from their round that you can like or comment on, or, through an app. called Repost, you can repost on your account, which is the ultimate social media complement. And the more content you repost, the more you’ll encourage your golfers and followers to participate. You can also pull in content from other sources, such as golf instructors, to build your gallery and following.

Where Facebook can help is that you can encourage your followers there to follow you on Instagram and encourage the sharing of photos and videos. This is cross-channel promotion that can help grow your audience on BOTH channels. And when you’ve got golfers following you on multiple social media channels, that’s online loyalty, my friends. That means you’ve got an interested and engaged golfer who WILL come practice and play at your course, unless rate, distance, etc. is a factor.

You can also use Instagram to bolster your Facebook following, and I’ll use a project I did with Arroyo Trabuco this year as an example. I interviewed Arroyo Head Pro Michael Block about playing in the Tour stop at Riviera CC in LA last Feb. ahead of the event. I hosted the three videos, which were 90 seconds or more, on Facebook and then used photo of Michael and the course to cross promote the Facebook videos on Instagram. All three videos performed great and generated a steady stream of supportive comments, exactly the type of engagement I was looking for.

By using this cross-promotion strategy, the course Instagram accounts I’ve overseen can now be run almost entirely on user-generated content, but obviously I still incorporate organic content as it suits the course’s social media marketing needs.

If you aren’t on Instagram, you’re not only missing this engagement opportunity, much worse, millennials might not be even be aware you exist. They have become notorious for looking up businesses online before making purchasing decisions. When they look you up, what will they find? Will they feel welcome? Are you prepared to engage them and even entertain them?

By the way, another word for millennials is young professionals, who are showing a renewed interest in country clubs for entertaining clients and hosting business events. If your club isn’t present on Instagram, you risk missing out on this audience and opportunity. How’s that for a social media reality check?

So if your course is still saying no Instagram (and why would you?), you are now fully aware of what you’re missing out on and you’re likely leaving a social media door open for your competition.

But if you’re ready to club up on your social media and get your game to better than par, contact 19th Hole Media. This is what we do and the strategy that we believe serves our clients best now and going forward. Who’s ready to have a conversation?

No. 1

house 1

Memorial Day Preview: California Classic Home Coming To Market Soon In Point Loma. See It Here First!

house 1

The blog is turning over a bit of a new leaf and dabbling in real estate this Memorial Day weekend to offer this preview of a California classic home coming to market soon as a FSBO.

This spacious four-bed, 3.5-bath home with a pool offers spectacular views of downtown and the Coronado Bridge from its unique hilltop location. The curb appeal of this home extends far into the San Diego horizon. We promise the first look will wow you.

Once you get inside, you’ll find an inviting home that provides two stories of generous and versatile living spaces. It is complemented by two side yards, including an exquisite main backyard with a pool and impeccable landscaping that creates a lush, secluded sanctuary to enjoy our sensational San Diego weather.

Built in 1938, this 3,621-foot structure has recently been updated with solar panels and includes a garage and a pool house.

To view this property, please contact Christi at 858.270.0860. If you’re home shopping this holiday week, this is one to put on your list. The views will amaze and the home will delight. Could this home be the right fit for you?

house 2

yard

pool

master bath

kitchen

wine fridge

bedroom

side 2

May Southland

Southland: Drought-Busting Winter Rains A Boon For SoCal Golf

May Southland

You can find the digital version of the story at Southland’s site here.

The winter rains may have been a wet blanket for tee sheets to start 2017 in Southern California, but the weather windfall since is the end of the drought and summer-quality course conditions months early.

The lush landscapes golfers are enjoying are helping courses recover from the drought, and the wet winter, in more ways than just through increased rounds.

Torrey Pines Golf Operations Director Mark Marney said the course scored a fiscal birdie in Feb. via a water savings of $75,000.

“It’s definitely going to help us from a budget standpoint,” Marney said. “But overall the rains have been really beneficial. The course is looking much crisper than it normally would at this time of year.”

Other course general managers across Southern California are echoing similar sentiments, saying spring course conditions are the best they’ve seen in years if not unprecedented.

Arroyo 18

Arroyo Trabuco

At Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo not only the course but the surrounding hillsides are so green one could almost confuse Orange County with Ireland. Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club Director of Golf Geoff Cram said the verdant coincidence is uncommon but very welcome.

“It never got cool this winter so our turf never really went dormant,” Cram said. “And then you had fresh water on top of it, so it’s incredibly green. Usually our turf ramps up slowly, but here it is the middle of March and it looks like the end of May.”

Colin Radchenko, General Manager at Steele Canyon Golf Club in Jamul, is witnessing similar surrounds at his course and is amazed by what he sees at courses throughout the county.

“It’s amazing what the water has done not just for us but for every golf course throughout San Diego,” he said. “It’s incredible, and our golfers are loving it.”

Radchenko reports strong play this spring after a winter that was solid as well despite the heavy rain events.

But the best news of all, of course, is that what’s largely regarded as the wettest winter in Southern California since 1983-84 busted the drought. Mike Huck, a water management in San Juan Capistrano who monitors usage by the state’s course, said he never expected a seven-year deficit to be caught up in one wet winter wallop, but it’s blessing that it did, especially for golf courses.

It’s assumed the state will lift some water restrictions of previous years, and if so, courses are indeed looking at a big boost to their budget for one of their largest expenses, Huck said. Various common sense restrictions will remain in place and become permanent such as bans on hosing off sidewalks, washing cars without a positive shutoff hose nozzle and irrigating narrow street medians with pop-up sprinklers.

“There’s probably a 10 percent savings or so that they can look forward to,” he said. “Courses may be able to prolong their savings when they begin heavily irrigating this spring due to the deeply wetted soils.”

There could be an additional savings through continued smart management practices that were born of the drought. While the drought was a painful maintenance circumstance, Huck said Southern California superintendents might now be better resource managers because of it.

“They learned they can live on a little less water than they had in the past and still have acceptable course conditions,” he said. “It forced them into using less, but it might not be a bad thing that it changed their approach a little bit.”

Some practices born of the drought, such as painting fairways and driving ranges, Huck expects to now be common practice regardless of future rains.

“I don’t think you’ll see people over seeding like you did in the past,” he said, “and that’s definitely a good thing.

“During the drought, they made great use of paints and dyes that helped them save on water. And it gives the course just enough color to keep it looking good. There’s no reason that shouldn’t continue.”

The upsides to the end of the drought are obvious for courses, but for some it came at a price. The sometimes severe storms of 2017 took down trees at some courses and caused other on-course damage through localized events, such as flooding.

16 TP North

Torrey North

Marney said course officials at Torrey in particular were holding their breath during storms after a re-designed North Course was still taking hold. It re-opened in Nov. and hosted the Farmers Insurance Open in Jan. Marney said Torrey’s courses mostly weathered the storms, but on occasion grounds crews were sent racing.

“We had some drains on the North that still need to be touched up and fixed, but it was a good test, and it passed,” he said.

Marney in particular noted the bunker maintenance disparity between the North and South Courses in preparation for the Farmers during the rains.

“It would take us two or three days to get the bunkers on the South back in play and on the North, we had no issues at all,” he said. “So in that respect, re-doing the North course really paid off in terms of reduction of time it took to get the course playable again.”

While Torrey was working feverishly last summer to get the project completed, it was also battling an infestation of bark beetles that were threatening its precious Torrey Pines. The lack of rains had sapped of the trees of their natural defense – sap – and the beetles were at one point killing four or five trees a month before Torrey’s maintenance crew introduced better methods to help the trees cope.

The beetles are always around, but Marney said the drought gave them the edge they needed to do great damage.

“You’d see a few trees in severe decline and then they’d quickly move onto another tree,” he said. “It was just moving much faster than it had in the past.”

Thanks to maintenance assist and the return of the rains, however, Marney said the remaining Torreys are recovering and the beetles are at bay for now.

“We’ve learned more and we’re in a different climate condition,” he said. “Both things are helping us out on this one.”

Huck said a handful of other courses faced beetles issues but for most the common fight is the toll years of continuous drought have taken on their trees, many of which Huck says won’t recover.

“Even with the rains, some of them are so far gone that they probably won’t come back,” he said. “It just depends how far into the cycle of death they are at this point.

“When you go through a dry spell like that, it puts real pressure on the trees.”

California’s groundwater reserves have been similarly stressed, which Huck said will be a decade-long recovery process because gains accrue so slowly. But he notes that, for some courses, the droughts did bring previously dry wells back into use.

One of other maintenance practices several courses in SoCal turned to during the drought was turf reduction. They removed turf to make the course more sustainable and replaced the turf with drought-tolerant plants.

vineyard course

Steele Canyon

Steele Canyon was one course that made a unique use of the reduced area by planting grapevines and establishing vineyards. This spring marks year two of the project and Radchenko is pleased to report buds forming on the still nearly virgin vines.

“It hasn’t really been warm yet, but when it heats up, we expect them to really take off,” he said. “But the water started things popping in the spring and definitely gave them a boost.”

The vines won’t produce a wine-grade grape until next year, but they did produce sporadic fruit a year ago that Radchenko hopes will be followed by lots of rain-fueled bunches and clusters this year.

“We won’t have our first real harvest until 2018, but it’s still great to see,” he said.

The drought ending is a happy ending for courses and hopefully the dawn of a new fruitful year after being hampered by a lack of water, and high water costs, for much of the decade.

The return of business as usual is certainly welcome by staffs at all California courses and Radchenko said golfers are celebrating it as well.

“Our rounds up and people are excited to get out and play,” he said. “But mostly it’s just nice to look at all the surrounding areas and see everything green after years of brown, brown, brown.”