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What makes Synergy Golf Solutions different from other Golf Course Marketing Companies is that its founder, Dave Cowan has been in the Golf Business his entire 35-year career. His experience makes Synergy Golf Solutions different and more importantly experienced enough to really be able to help you.


What Truly Makes Us Different


Beginnings in the Game of Golf - Working On-Course


I began as a young boy picking the range by hand with a shag bag, working my way to Back Shop Attendant cleaning and storing clubs, then on to the Golf Shop Staff merchandising, marketing and selling equipment, until I passed the PAT to become a Member of the PGA of Canada.  In addition to the golf side of the business, I spent time working a variety of positions in the golf course Maintenance Department as well as with the Food & Beverage Department. You name the job at the course and I have done it.


The Retail Side of The Game - Working Off-Course


In addition to my on-course experience, I have also spent time in the off-course retail golf business, with companies like Golf Haus, Nevada Bobs, and DiMarco Golf.  In this environment, I sharpened my marketing and sales skills but most importantly it became very clear to me that People Skills were at the heart of every successful business.


The Wholesale Side of Golf - Working With Courses


The next evolution in my career was working as a sales rep in the wholesale golf business with an industry leader Rampion Golf.  Calling on Golf Courses throughout Central Ontario I worked with Golf Professionals, General Managers, Owners & Operators selling everything from Ashworth Clothing, Cleveland Wedges and Sun Mountain Golf Bags to pencils and tees Once again I was exposed to another key role marketing played in success for courses.


Becoming a Golf Course General Manager - Running Golf Courses


My first position as a General Manager at a golf course was in Timmins Ontario for Spruce Needles Golf Club.  With no experience in club management, the things I knew best began to come out: marketing, sales, and people. This platform initiated success and growth for this course with the great team assembled.


I returned to Southern Ontario. The next facility I was instrumental in was a small Mom & Pop facility just north of Port Perry called Crestwood Golf Club.  Three very important things happened; 


1.  The business grew substantially in a short period of time and enabled the owner to sell it for significantly more than its original value.

2.  I discovered the importance of the need to be different from your competition regardless of the business.  Crestwood was a nine-hole facility however what made it unique was that almost every hole had a second tee deck for the back nine requiring the players to hit a completely different shot and four times a different fairway that led to the same green.  It was truly the only nine-hole golf course that played like it was eighteen.


3.  I learned that the true and simplest meaning of marketing for golf was the innate ability to place new bodies on the property or golf course and how this was achieved could be in many different ways.  The owner and PGA Professional at Crestwood Bill Huestis used to say if you gave away golf for free and filled your golf course 40,000 rounds and every person that came spent $30 would you not produce enough revenue to be considered successful and produce a profit.  The truth is really this, the more you are able to get people to patronize your facility, (bodies on the property) the more opportunity you have to increase the average spend that individual makes at your course on things like carts, golf equipment, food & beverage, hosting tournaments and events etc.  The more you increase the average spend the greater your overall revenue becomes and with the proper control of your expenses, an increase in profit should soon follow.


The Bonus From Crestwood - I met and began to work with my mentor Michael Schurman who now has 50+ years in the golf business and is one of Canada's only Master Golf Professionals.  This relationship continues to this day and remains an important part of what makes me different.


Crestwood was sold. I moved to the Mill Run Golf & Country Club a 36 hole facility in Uxbridge Ontario.  This course was originally owned by The Firefighters. The original sales concept for memberships was: buy a lifetime membership and never pay dues again. The concept proved to be unsound leading to financial issues and the club evolved into a semi-private organization for yearly dues members with outside green fee play allowed. 


As the new GM, I/we assembled a new team with one thought in mind:  find a way to grow the business producing the first bottom line profit in its 20+ year history.  Applying all my experiences and understanding the need to be different the team initiated four major marketing programs at Mill Run to make them stand out:

      1.        Installed the first fully functional GPS Systems on the brand new Club Car power carts. 

      2.        Offered "All You Can Play Every Day"  as our green fee program.

      3.        Established a cross-promotion with a major marketing partner.

      4.        Implemented a Customer Loyalty Program 



In the first full season:

      •         Mill run grew its rounds from 55,000 to 76,000 including an increase in pay-as-you-play                       of  over 5000 rounds

      •         Revenue increased by over $600,000.00

      •         Realized the 1st annual profit by Mill Run with a bottom line increase of over $300,000.00

Personally, I knew I had discovered the 4 steps to marketing success and how this secret would work for any golf course business.



Lesson Learned On Marketing - 4 Steps To Marketing Success


Our philosophy when it comes to golf course marketing is based on the simple understanding that there are four majors areas we need to be efficient at and focused on in order to help grow your business.


      1.      Create Differentiation – the ability to be different than your competition is critical! The need                  for this to be noticeable and to stand out is a key.

      2.      Create Value – having perceived value in every aspect of your business is what drives the                    business to be successful. Understanding how to create value is a key

      3.      Communicate – ensure you are communicating with your clients in the most effective                          manner possible e.g. Eblast, social media, traditional media etc. so that the customers are                   aware of what makes you different and how you provide value.

      4.     Create Customer Loyalty – the ability to provide loyalty to those who you wish to be loyal to                 you is critical.  You must provide a program that rewards those who play, shop, dines etc.


Learning The Real Secret

Once everything was finalized at year end it became apparent that something special had occurred at Mill Run. The growth of 21,000 rounds was an accomplishment never before seen at an established golf club. Coupling this with the bottom line increase was surely something to be proud of!

On Dec 21, 2004, a very special night occurred! All the Senior Managers of Mill Run, the entire Board of Directors and their spouses gathered for a Staff Christmas celebration which doubled as a celebration of the tremendous year at the club.  During the evening all Senior Managers were presented with a substantial bonus check to show the great appreciation for a job well done and as they were presented I stood up and spoke about them personally and what they meant to the recent success of the company.

Over the next 6 months, people wanted to know how this tremendous growth had happened and what was the secret.  I truly thought we had just done our jobs.  One day someone asked me what I thought customer service was: suddenly I began to understand what it was that we had done.

I answered; my job as General Manager was to ensure that all my Senior Managers were happy in their jobs, appreciated for the efforts and paid well for the job done.  In essence, my true existence was to ensure that I kept a smile on their face so in turn they did all the same things with their staff and kept a smile on their face also.  This generally would lead to the thing that begins to impact the business the most, these people then kept the smile on the face of our customer and when this happens the customer then begins to do something rather extraordinary, they support the business and return regularly.

The true discovery and the real secret is people and how you treat them.  The only true asset any business has is the people who work there and the people who play there.  The only thing guaranteed to change your business is people.  The only thing that can increase your business is people, the only thing that can decrease your business is people, the only thing that truly matters in your business is people,



The Real Secret Is People


So ask yourself;

How do I treat the people who work with me?

Would I work for me?

Is everyone on staff treated in the same manner in which I would wish to be treated myself?

Are all staff regardless of position treated in the same manner and with the same amount of respect?

How do you treat your customers?

Would you enjoy playing your own golf course?

Is every customer treated in the same manner in which I would wish to be treated myself?

Regardless of the customer and how much they spend is everyone treated in the same manner?



How We Can Help You


As you are probably very aware of by know, I have as much experience in marketing than most others in the golf course marketing business.  This experience came from actually doing the work just like you.  However, all the marketing in the world will fail if the customer arrives at your facility through your marketing efforts and decides not to return.



What Makes Synergy Golf Different Is That We Truly Understand

The Importance Of Marketing

But More Importantly,

We Succeed Through Knowing The Importance of People


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