We get this question a lot. Let’s start by examining the most crucial element, golf simulators.
What does a golf simulator cost?
The price ranges also vary by brand.
Cost ranges by commercial golf simulator brand:
Starting an indoor golf business
Yardstick Golf has done extensive research on what it cost to open indoor golf centers. There is a wide range of startup costs for the indoor golf bars we studied. Four of the biggest factors driving the range in costs are:
Small Indoor Golf Centers
Small golf centers we studied cost between $50,000 and $250,000 to open. They had between 2 and 4 simulators and were between 1,500 and 3,200 square feet. Simulator choices were on the lower end of the commercial range.
Medium Sized Indoor Golf Centers
Medium sized golf centers we studied cost between $350,000 and $650,000 to open. They had anywhere from 6 to 8 simulators and were between 5,500 and 10,000 square feet. Simulator choices were generally mid to high end of the commercial range. Beverage services were much more common that food service.
Large Indoor Golf Businesses
The largest golf centers we studied cost between $750,000 and $900,000 to open. 7 to 10 simulators were the norm for this group and the facilities were between 6,800 and 12,000 square feet. Simulator choices were typically high end, but a few went more in the mid-commercial range. Beverage services were also much more common that food service.
What do you think?
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Did you have a different experience opening your center, or are there other cost questions you’d like to know?
Comment and share your experience or question.
I continue to be dumbfounded as to why new businesses going in around my town so seldom put up a sign very early to say what the establishment is going to be. The ones that do put signs up create all sorts of buzz about coming to town, and many end up getting a big following and seem to do quite well.
When businesses do put up a sign, it's usually a tiny little sign that you have to get really close to read, or it only has a business name. It should be a big banner that is plain and easy to see with information on what your business will be. Why not? The cost is a drop in the bucket compared to the construction and your ongoing marketing costs. Everyone's eyes are drawn toward construction sites. Everyone's immediate question when they see construction is "Oh, I wonder what is going there". It becomes a conversation piece that people tell their friends about.
Granted, you might be so busy with so many things going on to open your store that you don't think about getting a sign up, but that would be a mistake. Get a big sign up early and get up a website - even if it is only a coming soon website. You can start collecting names for marketing use later. You can do something simple like give us your email and we'll send you a special grand opening invitation or offer. I've seen construction take many months to get some places open - this is very inexpensive advertising that creates anticipation for you to open.
The Indoor Golf Player Preference Study
Yardstick Golf recently completed a survey of indoor golfers to understand their preferences and find out more about what might make their experience more enjoyable or more frequent. This paper shares what we found and how you might use the information.
The study is 5 pages covering how factors such as a player's handicap drive differences in how they think about indoor golf, how frequently they'll play, whether they'll recommend to a friend and more. The preferences study is free with your purchase.
Here is a quick insight from the research we're giving away for free: golfers rating beverage choice and quality as excellent at the facility they most visited spent 2x the average respondent in the survey. Might be time to revisit your beverage selection.
Get the Indoor Player Preference Study for free in June when you purchase our Indoor Golf Study and Start up model here http://www.yardstickgolf.com/indoor-golf-study-promo.html
Its been a pretty good winter and hopefully that has meant strong traffic for indoor golf centers. With some really warm days this weekend and folks starting to get outside, I thought I'd take a quick peek at one section of our Golf Center Owner survey around increasing play during good weather.
The chart to the left shows responses to what things golf center owners feel provide the most lift in terms of increasing play at their stores.
Leagues and discounts / promotions were reported to be the most effective in increasing play.
Memberships and Corporate events were also reported to be good ways to increase your customer volume.
Before play starts to slow down, get some information up in your golf center about spring and summer leagues, membership specials and corporate fun events. The best time to get the word out is while people are still in your facility. It might even be good to talk to them and get feedback on times and days that would be most effective for league participation.
Corporate events might be a good avenue for getting mid-week traffic as explained in our last article on "fun / team building budgets". Another interesting option is to work with local colleges to offer a continuing study program on golf as explained in more depth in this blog article.
What other creative ideas are you finding help increase play during the summer months?
Could corporate fun budgets be an untapped source of potential customers for your indoor golf center? Wouldn't it be great to get a new stream of customers at a time when your play is likely at its lowest!
Fun budgets are quite often the core of the "mood and morale" efforts at your local businesses. They are used to show appreciation to employees, build team spirit and grow engagement. It seems ever corporate manager has read "1001 ways to reward employees" and has implemented some sort of budget process and team to improve morale in their team.
If approached correctly, this could be a great way to fill out your tee sheet during business hours and could lead to new customer introductions. You just need to find a way into the minds of the "fun event planners". Having worked at a number of companies that budget for team building and fun events, I thought I'd share a few ideas to help you out.
Start by creating a package that you think would work for a corporate outing and build materials to spread the word (webpage, fliers, in store signs, etc) . Captains Choice with a meal / beverage plan is probably the way to go since not all visitors will be experienced golfers. I've found that a $50 budget per person is an average fun budget. Build a list of the biggest local employers. Try to work your way in through a couple of avenues:
Data can be an amazing tool for making decisions and it doesn't have to be complicated to use. Take Google Trends as an example. It provides a simple graphical view of how frequently certain terms are used in searches. This can be incredibly helpful to you in finding out what customers are looking for that you can offer.
I've imbedded a simple chart below of the trends of four search terms. I was looking for terms related to indoor golf that peak in the summer. The potential use case here is to find terms that are more frequently searched than indoor golf in warm weather. In this view, "golf league" and "tee time" are the winners and "golf lesson" doesn't seem to be a frequently searched term.
What is really cool is that you can take this even further and drill into geographies, related search terms and more. The map below is an example, you can hover your cursor over the map to see the number of times Indoor Golf was searched. on the Google trends page, you can even see this over time on the map. I highly recommend using Google Trends to look for macro trends that can help you improve your marketing efforts.
I read just about everything I see as I find it pays off in big ways by helping power creative thoughts. Well last night I was browsing the local college's continuing studies guide and I ran across a golf class being offered at a local course on the indoor golf machine.
I thought to myself "this is brilliant". The course is getting free advertising to a well-targeted demographic for golfers while potentially generating income and new customers at the same time.
I immediately went to the school's website to see what they were doing and here is what I found:
Come play some of the finest courses in the world (such as St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Troon North, and Torrey Pines) on our Indoor Golf Simulator! Students receive four rounds of indoor golf and may bring up to three additional players with them at no additional fee to join in on the fun. Come Rain, shine, or the winter chill: the weather can't stop you now!
The class is $375 and instructions have potential students calling the golf facility directly versus registering through the school. In looking through the online catalog a bit further I found that this wasn't the only offering. There were others targeting juniors and seniors on the site. Pretty cool and creative idea to extend your marketing budget.
Call your local college today and offer to create a golf class for their continuing studies program.
I've been running a short golf simulator survey on this site for a couple months to collect information on simulator buying behavior. I thought I'd take a moment to share some of the results to date, but before going into details, I want to highlight a couple points. First, this was by no means a scientific study. I did not attempt to make my sample represent the general buying public - in fact I did not control the sample in any way. This is also a relatively small group, so the results may not be representative of a larger group - that said, here is what the results are showing.
Most of the folks taking the survey plan to purchase one or more simulators. Not surprising given they probably came to my site looking for information on simulators. It does appear though that folks looking to buy, know a good bit in advance and take some time to research and plan their purchases.
Almost all of the survey participants indicated plans to look at more than one simulator before making a purchase decision. More than half indicated looking at three simulators. I wish I'd included a comment section to collect info on the pro's and con's of each brand reviewed. Please comment if you have info to share on this topic.
Price Paid / Quoted
Admittedly, this was the question I was most interested in seeing. Prices for a mid-range golf simulator appear to be $25k+ based on survey responses. I'm not sure what to make of the under $10k response - maybe it was for home versus commercial use.
Since this one allowed multiple selections, it has the most responses. In this small sample, it looks like there is a primary and secondary tier of golf simulator brands being considered by potential customers.
If you like this article, you may also want to check out our article on Golf Simulator Market Share
What is keeping you from opening your indoor golf center or adding indoor golf to your current facility? Is it a fear of the unknown, worry about the worst case scenario? Or is it more a lack of time or money? Perhaps it is a lack of advice, information, support or confidence. Let's hear from folks on what they think it preventing them from getting "around to it". I gave you a round tuit at the left, now give me your thoughts. . .
With the continual advances in technology and the wide range of options, choosing a golf simulator can be a daunting task. By understanding the key features of a golf simulator and comparing them to your needs, you can narrow the field rather quickly and hone in on the best choice for you. We'll review many of the key features here to give you a jump start on your research.
Determining if this is for Home or Commercial Use is the best place to start. Are you looking for something for your home or for your business. If you are looking for your home, the most important considerations will be your budget and your space. If you are looking for your business, there are many more features to consider and we'll address many of those here. These may also be helpful to get an understanding of features for home use.
Price. This is an obvious consideration as we all live on a budget and even our businesses need to carefully consider costs. For a functional full size system, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $60,000. Most systems designed for commercial use will fall in the mid to high end of that range. The price will be driven by the choices you make in the options below.
Graphics. You need to figure out if you want 2D, 3D or photo-realistic graphics. In addition, do you want the image to fly with the ball or stay static from the tee. Simulators will also come with HD graphics, wide screen formats and real time rendering of images Speed of rendering is a critical component for most commercial applications as customers don't like waiting for images to load.
Number and type of courses. The number of courses will drive the price. Many simulators have standard packages that you can start out with and add to later as you desire. Some include new course downloads in their support, others require you to purchase them. Folks in commercial use situations also look for famous courses as they are often requested by clientele. Having more and famous courses can help drive indoor golf revenue.
User interface and game modes. Many of the high-end systems now come with touch screen control panels to help with set up, aim, mulligans and more. Some systems also come with options for internet gameplay and tournaments so you can compete against other players around the world. You may also want to look for options to play different types of games like best ball, closest to the pin and long drive contests.
Golf swing analysis. There are several different methods for golf simulators to provide for swing analysis. Many of the top line models offer one or more of these methods. Club path analysis shows the swing path, clubhead speed, position and angle of the face at impact. Ball flight analysis will look at launch angle and spin rate. Lastly, video capture allows for instruction and feedback on particular parts of the swing sequence.
Support and maintenance. You also need to pay close attention to the support that comes with the product itself. Look at the length of the warranty, what it covers, whether there is remote support available, and if there is any sort of installation support. Also ask about life of the parts and replacement costs for things like projectors, screens, bulbs and mats.