I had no idea that rounds might not count towards a handicap because the course was playing too hard. Kudos to Diablo Golf for an awesome graphic and great information.
With the amount of money you spend on a golf simulator, you would think it would be easy to find a report on golf simulator market share. It has been a singularly difficult task and about the only share metrics come from the manufacturers themselves.
So I'v decided to do my own sort of market share estimate by comparing how often each brand is searched using the Google keywords planner. It allows you to enter search terms and see the average monthly searches on a particular keyword or group of words.
This is an imperfect science, but the results are somewhat intuitive as the larger brands appear to be searched more frequently. In all cases I added either "simulator" or "golf simulator" to the search term so some of the names with generic meaning did not pull in searches about other topics.
Here are the results:
An interesting point of note is that "golf simulator" alone is searched on average 14,800 times a month.
Let me know if there is a brand I've missed.
I've seen a number of threads on various websites debating whether it is better to go big (10+ simulators) or small (3 or less) in setting up a new indoor golf business. No one really seems to have a final answer.
In our survey we saw a wide range in the number of simulators in each facility. Both large and small facilities seemed to be able to turn a profit. I've also seen both models go under.
Looking for commentary from folks on which type of facility they'd prefer to visit or comments from owners on which they thinkn is better. Lets hear from you - please comment.
By Google or Yahoo standards, that isn't a huge number, but for a small website like mine, it is a pretty big deal. Looking at the downloads, I am amazed at how many people are considering opening an indoor golf center. Of the 200 business plan downloads, almost 180 are considering opening a golf center in the next year. Over 2/3 of those are thinking about doing it in the next 3 months. I've also had 10 downloads from people who own or work at an existing golf center.
All of these downloads and traffic growth going along with it makes me curious as to what you all think about the business plan and the study / model (if you downloaded it). Did the plan help? Did you find anything surprising? Have you opened a golf center? Leave a comment and let me hear your thoughts!
As the weather warms, school gets out and round outside really start to crank up, we thought we'd share a few ideas on interesting ideas to market your indoor golf facility that we've seen others doing:
Outdoor instruction simply cannot match the feedback and analysis you can get in a controlled environment loaded with sensors and video equipment. We've seen quite a few facilities marking the science of game improvement to get players to book hours on the simulators - with or without a pro giving lessons.
Not every kid feels comfortable at a course or driving range. Some have difficulty with heat and allergies. Offering an indoor golf camp is a fun an interesting way to learn the game. It can also be a great way to drive known bookings around low volume hours. Make sure you check into any special laws or licensing needed for running a camp.
This is a bit of a twist on the summer camp idea in that it is geared towards kids, just not for as long of a duration. You can offer a special for parents to play on other simulators while their kids attend the party.
Introduction to Golf
Target folks who would like to learn, but may be intimidated by going out on the course. Offer a spouses special for your regular players. Help them get started in the game and you can potentially grow a new base.
Leagues, Contests and Charity Events
Offer special events to draw in players. Contests like closest to the pin and long drive get folks in the door, but you'll probably have a little work to do to keep them there.
Fitting and Demo Days
Partner up with your local sales reps. Offer your customers a chance to come hit all the new clubs in one place. You may even be able to get a piece of the action on equipment sales if all goes well.
If you have food and beverage capabilities, you can offer a combo package of food, drink and play time on the machines. Do a promotion to keep cool at the hottest part of the day and come in for a round and a drink.
It rains during the summer and you can offer a place to play when other courses can't. Give a "Rain Check" coupon to local clubs to let players come to your facility and get a discount when it rains.
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.
Most people close to indoor golf know it is a seasonal business. Our golf center survey found that business is much more robust in the cold and wet months than it is in the warm and dry ones. No big surprise there. What is interesting is that the trend for "indoor golf" searches on Google is seasonal as well. Notice how the index from Google below shows that indoor golf searches peak around January each year and tend to bottom out in the May through August period.
What does this mean for your indoor golf business?
It means that your off season marketing efforts need to be broader than just talking about indoor golf. Be creative, look for ideas that align with search trends, provide what folks are looking for in your area. An example is "Golf League" in the chart below. It's peak will perfectly correlate with the off season bottoms on indoor golf in terms of search trends. Get creative, do your research and find ideas lie golf lessons, golf tournament, or golf coupon (I know those aren't too creative, but they do better support summer search patterns than indoor golf.
I've shared information on www.bundle.com before, but it really is a great tool to help you think about your business. I've learned that indoor golf owners are very concerned about competition from other indoor golf centers, but most cities don't have multiple indoor golf facilities. However, most cities have a range of entertainment options. How can you see where else your customers are going?
That's where bundle comes in (and it is free). Type in your facility name and city and hit "Go". Bundle has a vast database of all sorts of stores along with credit card transaction data that they use to build a site like Yelp, but with a but more emphasis on where people spend their money versus what they say about a place.
I picked Gonzo's Indoor Golf for a quick example on how you can make use of this data. Here is the first page that comes up when I select Gonzo's:
Gonzo's is doing relatively well based on spending data compared to other recreation opportunities in South Burlington. Let's see where Gonzo's customers come from to visit the golf center.
About 18% of customers come from the same zip, 69% from the same county and nearly all are from Vermont. But where else do Gonzo's customer spend money on recreation? Bundle can show you that as well.
This was a much longer list, so I am just showing the first couple. You can find out what else your customers like to do and develop marketing strategies to get more of their entertainment dollars. Visit these places, see what they offer, maybe bring a little of that back to your shop. Another way to use the info is in how to target your marketing. This sort of info gives you clues into the lifestyles of your customers and can help you pick other places to advertise your business.
Let me know you're a real person, leave a comment