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jbwm89
05-11-2010, 10:49 PM
My Dad and I are in the development stages of possibly starting a driving range in Saint Joe. I don't know how many people are familiar to the area but we own enough land to get it done about 2 blocks north of terrible's casino. There is also a pretty nice softball complex that has been getting a lot of traffic and some other developments in the area. We are also considering adding batting cages and maybe eventually a pro shop. If you feel like helping try and answer some of these questions for me.

What are your favorite/least favorite things about your local driving range?

If your more business savvy than I am, does this sound like a good idea? Really any input would be appreciated.

'Hamas' Jenkins
05-11-2010, 11:33 PM
A couple of things you should do:

1) Don't give out tokens, as cheap bastards like me will buy the amount of balls that gives you the most tokens per dollar and then just use them one at a time.

2) Do not by the octagonal mats. They aren't wide enough for some people and they still take up a good deal of space.

3) Make sure that you regularly change your tees and make sure that each mat has the option of a tall tee for a driver and a shorter one for a fairway wood

4) Put up a lot of signage within 100 yards. This will make people more apt to practice shots over shorter distances, and thus you will lose fewer balls

5) If possible, put up netting on either side of the driving range to keep severely off line shots within play

6) Put up lights so that you can stay open a little later than dark. This really helps with summer business, IMO.

7) Have a grass hitting area. Better players will be more likely to go there if you do. If you do this, also rotate the area regularly. The grass area should also be a ryegrass that will grow in thick and can withstand heavy traffic. Make sure that your soil is sandy in this area as it will help with drainage.


8) Think about adding other amenities in the future, such as mini golf.

9) If you want to add a pro shop, you need to start working the phones to get accounts with club reps ASAP. You also need to realize that club retailing is not very profitable unless you have a pro who can fit people and thus get them to buy from him because of that service. If you were to do such a thing, also try and get as many Demo Days as possible at your place. This will drive traffic.

CaliforniaChief
05-11-2010, 11:41 PM
8) Think about adding other amenities in the future, such as mini golf.



Great suggestion. The place by my house has putting greens and chipping areas as well as a sand trap to hit out of. It's a nice feature that draws me in. Once I'm there, I'll often buy some balls and head to the range.

HotRoute
05-11-2010, 11:42 PM
it would be a good idea. have multiple targets with considerable distance markers. Also go with the real grass instead of the fake if possible, and try to give discounts on certain days to entice people to come in more frequently

'Hamas' Jenkins
05-11-2010, 11:44 PM
If you make a practice green, ask the superintendent of one of the local golf courses for info on how to do it, or if he could do it for a fee.

You need to have a certain base of soil, sand, and bent grass in order for it to be most effective and grow well. You'll also need to invest in a powered reel-to reel mower to cut it.

For bunkers, you can hand rake them and use riverbed sand, but be wary of its tendency to pack down.

'Hamas' Jenkins
05-11-2010, 11:45 PM
it would be a good idea. have multiple targets with considerable distance markers. Also go with the real grass instead of the fake if possible, and try to give discounts on certain days to entice people to come in more frequently

You need to have both. It's too stressful on the grass to take a beating from heavy traffic, and you can hit off mats when its wet and not take a beaver pelt.

CaliforniaChief
05-11-2010, 11:46 PM
You could partner up with the local Waffle House and do "Tiger Woods Day" where waitresses dress seductively and serve hackers a plate of pancakes when they finish their buckets.

Hog Farmer
05-11-2010, 11:59 PM
Make ure your clubhoue has plenty of Boar goo available. It will cum in handy for the idiots.

BossChief
05-12-2010, 12:25 AM
I would also suggest contacting a local "pro" about offering lessons. Thats a potentialy huge profit center.

Good luck.

I think I'm gonna have to go play a round tomorrow.

cdcox
05-12-2010, 12:31 AM
A couple of things you should do:

1) Don't give out tokens, as cheap bastards like me will buy the amount of balls that gives you the most tokens per dollar and then just use them one at a time.

2) Do not by the octagonal mats. They aren't wide enough for some people and they still take up a good deal of space.

3) Make sure that you regularly change your tees and make sure that each mat has the option of a tall tee for a driver and a shorter one for a fairway wood

4) Put up a lot of signage within 100 yards. This will make people more apt to practice shots over shorter distances, and thus you will lose fewer balls

5) If possible, put up netting on either side of the driving range to keep severely off line shots within play

6) Put up lights so that you can stay open a little later than dark. This really helps with summer business, IMO.

7) Have a grass hitting area. Better players will be more likely to go there if you do. If you do this, also rotate the area regularly. The grass area should also be a ryegrass that will grow in thick and can withstand heavy traffic. Make sure that your soil is sandy in this area as it will help with drainage.


8) Think about adding other amenities in the future, such as mini golf.

9) If you want to add a pro shop, you need to start working the phones to get accounts with club reps ASAP. You also need to realize that club retailing is not very profitable unless you have a pro who can fit people and thus get them to buy from him because of that service. If you were to do such a thing, also try and get as many Demo Days as possible at your place. This will drive traffic.

10) Set up a cinnamon roll stand on premise. That would go well with a wimpy sport like golf.

BossChief
05-12-2010, 12:34 AM
10) Set up a cinnamon roll stand on premise. That would go well with a wimpy sport like golf.

then you know nothing of golf.

I guess to each his own.

Thig Lyfe
05-12-2010, 12:53 AM
11) Nude women.

BWillie
05-12-2010, 01:15 AM
I thought about doing this, but if you get a loan you are still paying on the place half the year when nobody is bringing in income.

Miles
05-12-2010, 01:34 AM
Pretty much all of what Hamas has already said. Good quality mats will better replicate grass for iron shots and make people care a little less when they have to be used. Avoid the old school ones that are basically hard astroturf if you can.

Also change your range balls frequently enough that they don't get too beat up and faded.

Miles
05-12-2010, 01:39 AM
If you make a practice green, ask the superintendent of one of the local golf courses for info on how to do it, or if he could do it for a fee.

You need to have a certain base of soil, sand, and bent grass in order for it to be most effective and grow well. You'll also need to invest in a powered reel-to reel mower to cut it.

For bunkers, you can hand rake them and use riverbed sand, but be wary of its tendency to pack down.

Building a decent practice green is pretty expensive and maintaining it is also not the easiest thing either.

Miles
05-12-2010, 02:25 AM
A couple of things you should do:


Some of the newer ones around here are just an automated machine with a credit card slot / vending machine style cash slot. Seems to work well in the evenings since there is no real need to have someone on-site at all times. Particularly handy at nights.

Heated stalls is also a great feature but from what I can remember about living in the midwest, snow sticks around a while on grass so you probably couldn't be open year round even with heaters.

HMc
05-12-2010, 02:30 AM
http://www.devere.com.au/d/devere/media/__thumbs_600_500_scale/compressed_Moore_Park_Golf.jpg

KurtCobain
05-12-2010, 03:57 AM
11) Nude women.

I'll be there!

|Zach|
05-12-2010, 04:06 AM
Lots of good advice about very customer centric type stuff in this thread but you need to be reasonable about what you can afford to build and maintain to have an edge and reasonable overhead.

Completely understand your competition.

Who else does what you do in the area?
What are the demographics customer wise?
What are the prices like?
How are their facilities laid out?
What do they do well?
What do they do poorly?

It goes on and on.

Listen to your potential customers and their advice but don't listen too hard. Find out what would actually make them pull the trigger on going to your place.

What is your differentiator?

1) Account for your costs. Everything needs to make sense in the pricing. Too many businesses don't account for their true costs.

As a photographer sometimes I throw my hourly rate out and it causes people to squirm.

Just throwing out a number but...say an hour of photography is $100. Seems crazy...I mean the guy is just going out snapping pictures.

Say the gig is 15 mins away that is 30 min. getting there and back. An hour of shooting, and then two hours of post processing. Suddenly by 100\hr is actually about 28\hr. Then there are tech costs...I know in the next year I am going to have to buy another camera body at about 3k. So that is another thing that has to be accounted. I divide that 3k number by the amount of gigs I think I am going to have in that year span so when that next purchase comes up it is accounted for.

Suddenly 100\hr doesn't seem quite as crazy.

That is a different business model but the idea is just the same.

Think long and hard about costs that go into the business and account for them. Don't put yourself in a position where success (in the form of people enjoying your facility) isn't really success at all because the money you take in isn't enough to cover the true cost of your business.

2) Understand what really drives people spend money at your place.

A lot of companies needing graphic or web design always talk about how they want something different, artistic, or bold. But when it actually comes down to it 9 times out of 10 they pick the same corporate looking "safe" type stuff.

What people say they want and what they end actually paying for are not always the same thing.

There seem to be a lot of cool suggestions on stuff to have in this thread but my question is....is most of it needed? The answer could absolutely be yes but don't assume anything. Make it your job to understand why people spend money at a facility like this. Go to another city...take an owner out to lunch and pick his brain.

Get a good accountant. That is one of the most valuable things your business can have.

All the best to you!

Pushead2
05-12-2010, 04:36 AM
http://www.devere.com.au/d/devere/media/__thumbs_600_500_scale/compressed_Moore_Park_Golf.jpg

that's fucking sweet...

Guru
05-12-2010, 05:23 AM
http://www.devere.com.au/d/devere/media/__thumbs_600_500_scale/compressed_Moore_Park_Golf.jpgnow that is cool as hell. Where is that?

HMc
05-12-2010, 06:43 AM
20 mins from me http://www.mooreparkgolf.com.au/welcome/index.mhtml

The course is rubbish and I'm actually a member elsewhere but it's a sweet driving range and only 10 mins from downtown.

tooge
05-12-2010, 08:01 AM
naked chicks running around in helmets as targets. You'll be the talk of the golf world.

jbwm89
05-12-2010, 08:03 AM
Thanks for all the good ideas, if we go through with it the advantage will be we already own the land and all the equipment to clear the land

tooge
05-12-2010, 08:10 AM
Thanks for all the good ideas, if we go through with it the advantage will be we already own the land and all the equipment to clear the land

Soooooo, you gonna do the naked chicks thing? Or maybe gals in bikinis serving beer and lemonade? I really need to work on my game, but that is kinda far to go to simply "hit balls"

Groves
05-12-2010, 08:20 AM
Take advantage of that far end of the range where only the big dogs hit em. Set up a play area for kids there. The kids are into a little danger these days.

You can also set up a sniper range pointing back at the golfers. Maybe it's only paintball snipers, check your local regs. Offer a discount for guys willing to both drive and be targets for the other end.

Offer a reduced bucket rate if they go and pick up their balls. Who hasn't wanted to drive that cool machine.

Free bucket if you hit the guy in the pickerupper cart, too. 3 hits and your name goes on the pro-shop wall forever.

We're goal driven, see. Give us some goals, we'll fill your wallet.

KCUnited
05-12-2010, 08:35 AM
Proposed the idea for a range along the river in the River Market for my Enterprise class at UMKC. Wanted to set it up as a franchise model for other urban/financial district areas. My group shot it down, fools.

King_Chief_Fan
05-12-2010, 09:09 AM
http://www.devere.com.au/d/devere/media/__thumbs_600_500_scale/compressed_Moore_Park_Golf.jpg

although that accomodates a lot of golfers and is probably low maintenance, you have to an area to hit off the grass......you need a pitching area and a putting area.

good luck

CoMoChief
05-12-2010, 09:23 AM
Practice green w/ sand trap

Have some junk cars like an old VW bug out there. It's fun, people always like aiming for shit like that.

booyaf2
05-12-2010, 09:25 AM
You should talk to my neighbor. Huge ass, he'd be a great golfer and might have some good advice

Rooster
05-12-2010, 09:45 AM
You're going to need a lot of balls.

Dicky McElephant
05-12-2010, 10:36 AM
3) Make sure that you regularly change your tees and make sure that each mat has the option of a tall tee for a driver and a shorter one for a fairway wood


This.

jbwm89
05-12-2010, 10:44 AM
I am thinking mostly grass for the tees, as a golfer I like it a lot better, probably some mats though for when it is wet. I was researching some mats that instead of those shitty rubber tees you just use regular tees and they stick right into the mat.

jbwm89
05-12-2010, 10:46 AM
Most of the initial start up costs would come from the net, and obviously all the balls. I am assuming we would need to build some sort of outhouse structure as well. My families company sells just about everything you would need to make it though. I am thinking about trying to start it out as low cost as possible and then make more additions if a little bit of money starts to flow in, like batting cages, pro shop, etc.

|Zach|
05-12-2010, 10:47 AM
I am thinking mostly grass for the tees, as a golfer I like it a lot better, probably some mats though for when it is wet. I was researching some mats that instead of those shitty rubber tees you just use regular tees and they stick right into the mat.

Be careful with that line of thinking.

It isn't about you.

jbwm89
05-12-2010, 10:50 AM
Be careful with that line of thinking.

It isn't about you.

That is very true. What does everyone think, natural grass rotating positions to keep it fresh, or mats?

Dicky McElephant
05-12-2010, 10:54 AM
That is very true. What does everyone think, natural grass rotating positions to keep it fresh, or mats?

Both. Split it half and half. There are going to be golfers who want to hit off of mats and there are going to be golfers who want to hit off of grass.

OnTheWarpath58
05-12-2010, 11:01 AM
Both. Split it half and half. There are going to be golfers who want to hit off of mats and there are going to be golfers who want to hit off of grass.

This.

If a driving range doesn't have grass tees, I don't give them my business.

RedNFeisty
05-12-2010, 11:04 AM
Zach gave some great advice. Know you competition, research other companies that are comparable to what you are wanting to do, talk to the owners and by all means go outside of your own city.

http://sbinformation.about.com/od/marketresearch/Market_Research.htm

Make sure and do your market research before ever approaching a bank! I searched for 30 seconds and came up with the above link, you could probably find a better site.

Accountants are a great investment, they can help make or break you.

RedNFeisty
05-12-2010, 11:07 AM
Most of the initial start up costs would come from the net, and obviously all the balls. I am assuming we would need to build some sort of outhouse structure as well. My families company sells just about everything you would need to make it though. I am thinking about trying to start it out as low cost as possible and then make more additions if a little bit of money starts to flow in, like batting cages, pro shop, etc.

You have to make it appealing in the beginning or you won't have an income flow. A mistake new business owners make.

notorious
05-12-2010, 11:14 AM
Take your figures for time and expenses and double them.


That will give you a pretty accurate idea of what you are looking at. It worked well for me on my 3 businesses. One of my businesses, a bowling alley, was awesome until I got into the day in and out operations along with repairs. Thank God we sold that puppy.


You will not believe how much TIME you will put into this venture. When a person looks at this emotionally, he only see the benefits of it. Think about repairing the ball collector, the change dispenser, the course, keeping it mowed, repairing the nets. Eventually you will become so commited to keeping the place going you will probably dislike hitting balls yourself.


Anything that is fun becomes work when applying it in a business. Trust me.

HemiEd
05-12-2010, 11:25 AM
Have a lot of real grass to hit off of, most ranges have too many plastic mats.

One of the most successful ranges up here, sells soft serve ice cream. I was surprised, but a lot of people go there just for the ice cream.

It is packed most of the time, with lots of mini golfers and ice cream eaters.

Green valley (http://chicago.metromix.com/leisure/recreation_facilities/green-valley-driving-range-hanover-park/142950/content)

PhillyChiefFan
05-12-2010, 11:49 AM
Have a lot of real grass to hit off of, most ranges have too many plastic mats.

One of the most successful ranges up here, sells soft serve ice cream. I was surprised, but a lot of people go there just for the ice cream.

It is packed most of the time, with lots of mini golfers and ice cream eaters.

Green valley (http://chicago.metromix.com/leisure/recreation_facilities/green-valley-driving-range-hanover-park/142950/content)

That is a great idea. A place near where I lived made it's own ice cream and had an indoor mini golf course.

Can offset some of your losses in the winter. I'm sure that will all come down the line for you by the sounds of it, but it's something to think about.

Heated hitting areas will give you business so long as there's no snow on the ground too.

NewChief
05-12-2010, 11:50 AM
That is a great idea. A place near where I lived made it's own ice cream and had an indoor mini golf course.

Can offset some of your losses in the winter. I'm sure that will all come down the line for you by the sounds of it, but it's something to think about.

Heated hitting areas will give you business so long as there's no snow on the ground too.

Assuming you go with the facilities for ice cream, if you're going to try to capture year-round business, might as well sell coffee in the winter.

I wonder if you could sell beer?

OnTheWarpath58
05-12-2010, 12:08 PM
Assuming you go with the facilities for ice cream, if you're going to try to capture year-round business, might as well sell coffee in the winter.

I wonder if you could sell beer?

I've thought many times about opening a driving range with a sports bar on property - but I'd want to name it "Drink and Drive," and well, that wouldn't go over very well.

Dicky McElephant
05-12-2010, 12:12 PM
I've thought many times about opening a driving range with a sports bar on property - but I'd want to name it "Drink and Drive," and well, that wouldn't go over very well.

Dude....that's awesome. I bet you that would go over really well.

OnTheWarpath58
05-12-2010, 12:15 PM
Dude....that's awesome. I bet you that would go over really well.

I think it would do pretty well financially, especially considering the lack of solid practice facilities here - but I'm not sure it's worth the headache of having MADD picket the place day after day.

Dicky McElephant
05-12-2010, 12:17 PM
I think it would do pretty well financially, especially considering the lack of solid practice facilities here - but I'm not sure it's worth the headache of having MADD picket the place day after day.

Free publicity man.

jbwm89
05-12-2010, 12:36 PM
I am in the process of putting together a business plan. I'm a senior at MU and a business major so I just use this for all my projects and stuff I have to do for class. What it really comes down to is the acreage around the current business brings in approx 2,000 a year with us letting someone else farm it for a portion of the profits. So if its possible to make more than that I will be able to use the land without any overhead. It's probably something that if it happens will be next summer. I really like the idea of serving alcohol, with the development going on in the area there is a lot more traffic and really no restaurant or even a gas station anywhere close.

Thanks for the advice, if this ever actually happens you can all come play with my balls for free

Dicky McElephant
05-12-2010, 12:38 PM
I am in the process of putting together a business plan. I'm a senior at MU and a business major so I just use this for all my projects and stuff I have to do for class. What it really comes down to is the acreage around the current business brings in approx 2,000 a year with us letting someone else farm it for a portion of the profits. So if its possible to do make more than that I will be able to use the land without any overhead. It's probably something that if it happens will be next summer. I really like the idea of serving alcohol with the development going on in the area there is a lot more traffic and really no restaurant or even a gas station. Thanks for the advice everyone free balls on me if this ever really gets going.

:D

Might want to change that.

OnTheWarpath58
05-12-2010, 12:38 PM
I am in the process of putting together a business plan. I'm a senior at MU and a business major so I just use this for all my projects and stuff I have to do for class. What it really comes down to is the acreage around the current business brings in approx 2,000 a year with us letting someone else farm it for a portion of the profits. So if its possible to make more than that I will be able to use the land without any overhead. It's probably something that if it happens will be next summer. I really like the idea of serving alcohol, with the development going on in the area there is a lot more traffic and really no restaurant or even a gas station anywhere close.

Thanks for the advice, if this ever actually happens you can all come play with my balls for free

LMAO

NewChief
05-12-2010, 12:45 PM
I am in the process of putting together a business plan. I'm a senior at MU and a business major so I just use this for all my projects and stuff I have to do for class. What it really comes down to is the acreage around the current business brings in approx 2,000 a year with us letting someone else farm it for a portion of the profits. So if its possible to make more than that I will be able to use the land without any overhead. It's probably something that if it happens will be next summer. I really like the idea of serving alcohol, with the development going on in the area there is a lot more traffic and really no restaurant or even a gas station anywhere close.

Thanks for the advice, if this ever actually happens you can all come play with my balls for free

Find out all the dimensions on the alcohol thing. That being said, I know you can make a killing off of booze or beer. Hell, any beverage really. Profit margins are good. Just don't know about things like liability and licensing.

|Zach|
05-12-2010, 02:13 PM
The alcohol part opens up a slew of things. There is A LOT that goes into doing that the right way. Not saying its a bad idea. It will just be one headache after another.