In the wake of a crushing economic blow, Newmachar’s Mike Timson found a way to increase his junior membership five fold. Marie Taylor reports… When Mike Timson came into Newmachar and found a club on the brink of a crisis, he had to get innovative…and quickly. Two months before he took the reins as operations director at the Aberdeen club, wide ranging redundancies in the oil industry had left their massive mark almost overnight. 100 members gone. Much needed revenue lost. And to make matters worse, corporate golf had become a thing of the past. Talk about a baptism of fire for Timson, who arrived to lead a team of 29 staff in May last year. But he wasn’t cowed by the challenge. Instead, he did something remarkable about growing their membership. “It’s about planting acorns,” said Timson, who needed a way to create business against a bleak economic backdrop. He turned his attention to junior membership. It’s a path many clubs have tried to tread, but with little success. Newmachar, though, went from just 20 junior members to more than 100 in only seven months. So how did he succeed where so many others have failed? Firstly, he recruited a new team that would specifically deliver a five-week training programme in local schools. Every child was given a handicap and, after completing the five hour course, the most improved child from each class was given a free membership. With Sport Scotland required to ensure every Primary 7 (10-11-year-olds) child had some access to golf coaching as part of their bid to secure funding for the Ryder Cup, Newmachar really embraced the chance. Key to their effort was turning the traditional view of what coaching should be on its head. “Golf is too coachy,” Timson added. “We have invested around £1,500 and our return to the business has been in the region of £20,000. The content is fun” “We give them a different experience. It’s all about the fun.” A Pink Panther-style video and wrap around services were provided for schools who took a trip to the club after the training. “The pro shop wage bill is £80,000 a year. While making £2,000 a month from junior coaching, this doesn’t cover the wage bill. “We are, however, planting acorns so that, eventually, those juniors will come back. The parents are then presented with the opportunity to get into golf but the approach is fresh and unlike traditional approaches.” Timson hasn’t finished there, though. By the spring, a new virtual reality driving range will be in operation. Trackman and other software will provide an immersive experience for juniors and adults alike. He’s got the backing of the club committee and has also secured sponsorship from St James’s Place Wealth Management and Foregolf, as well as a health food company. A former construction manager, and an advanced PGA professional, Timson enjoyed previous spells at King’s Lynn and Belton Park – where he had previous success employing his methods. “At Belton Park, I...
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