Using Social Media to Engage the Public Player

Using Social Media to Engage the Public Player

John Gordon (@gordongolf) and Ryan Young (@Front9Back9) both commented on twitter recently about shortcomings by golf courses around their use of twitter (and perhaps social media in general). I completely agree and feel it is a lost opportunity to forge a relationship with golfers.

Through my day job I have become very familiar with social media tools and recognize they can be effective to engage people, supporting an exchange of relevant knowledge and information. The philosophy which our office employs around social media is that we use it because many of our audiences and end users do. It is our responsibility to communicate in a way and using language which they prefer.

I do not believe all golf courses understand this. Gordon and Young are spot on in their 140 character assessment. Very few courses use social media effectively, some don’t use it at all. Many courses feel they have a website, post information in their pro shops and clubhouses and feel that this is sufficient. First, you miss opportunities to actively engage public players. The key here is engagement. I am not talking a passive, one-way approach to pushing out information. I am seeking space for a dialogue. But stepping back from my aspirations for meaningful engagement, courses miss the mark around the simple exchange of important information using social media channels.

Not all platforms serve the same purpose; Facebook is space for a more an on-going in-depth dialogue. Twitter can support more concise, timely but relevant two-way engagement. Instagram is visually focused and can help courses reflect the visual appeal or important course developments and news. A website is a critical core social media tool but requires active maintenance to ensure information is up to date.

Sure, it is work, but public playing golfers want to feel like they have greater access to information about courses in their area. They want to be heard, certainly respected, but want to know that they can access relevant information which will help inform their decisions to play, and perhaps more importantly return to a course.

Golf is a service industry and I see this shortcoming in areas of social media both surprising and disappointing. And while there are some exceptions to this, I am hopeful that there will be some significant changes in policies and practices by golf courses in Canada. I follow many courses on Twitter across the country and only a handful utilize this platform effectively. Not all websites are made equal; some bury relevant information for public golfers deep in their site. A social media strategy by courses, along with the resources to effectively manage this, can go a long way to engage golfers and support mutual objectives of an enjoyable golf experience that results in return visits and value for all.  Zeb Welborn of 19th Hole Media knows this all too well.  He has a business specifically designed to help golf courses effectively engage with golfers using social media.

I don’t want to be seen as someone who is simply filling space on a tee sheet and supporting the bottom line. I would like to know I can engage with courses I play; sharing and receiving relevant information to make my golf experiences more enjoyable. My purpose for this piece is that I’d like to be part of a solution through providing constructive feedback. #growthegame #meaningfulengagement


7 thoughts on “Using Social Media to Engage the Public Player

  1. Mike, I’ve had mixed results with engagement as you have. When I review a course, I’ll push that to Twitter and recently some will pick up the review and start a dialog. is a good site to push a review and is widely used even if the course does not participate. You can usually get a dialog going with other players/customers there. Good luck!


    • Thanks for the reply, Brian. The courses that have capacity and interest to engage are courses I tend to appreciate more (not necessarily enjoy). And as you rightly state, some are better than others at acknowledging feedback/reviews. It’s a work in progress, but I’m glad there’s an emerging conversation about this. Cheers, Mike

  2. Mike

    Engagement is the key. I started with twitter and Facebook only 16 months ago and my readership has grown by 1000 followers and 30k views. It is a slow process and I believe that being engaged, is key.


  3. A great article and thank you for sharing. As someone who does social media for golf courses I know what an impact it can have in the attitude of the golfer and their willingness to come back more often and play . . . and also share their golfing experience with others. Both of which are helping to grow the game.

    If you want a more in-depth analysis of the importance of social media and golf, I’d highly recommend a book I wrote with John Hakim called The Social Golf Course which you can find in Amazon. We talk about why it’s important for local golf courses to use social media to get golfers to take up the game, play more often, and tell everyone they talk to about what a great experience their having on the golf course.

    Keep up the great work!

    • Thank you for the kind words, Zeb. I’ll be sure to look up the book. The issue of social media with golf courses may be even more prevalent if we talk about younger people and engaging them around golf. It certainly ties in, too, with aspirations for growing the game.

      Look forward to connecting up with you at the next #GolfChat

      Regards, Mike

  4. Mike,

    It’s true, many courses are missing out on the opportunity. In many cases, doing a poor job can be worse than having no presence at all on social media. If players reach out to a course via social media, and they do not engage, or their social media accounts are neglected, players may feel neglected or the course may come off as snobby by ignoring them. If courses are going to use social media, they should be prepared to go all-in and do it right. Bandon Dunes is a great example of a course that does a good job on Twitter. They follow their visitors back (and don’t do massive unfollow pushes like accounts like Troon do once they get people to follow), retweet/favorite their photos, and answer questions, etc. Not sure why this is so hard for other courses to understand.

    Good topic.


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