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Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Idea Share is always one of the highlights of the Golf Business Canada Conference. Paticipants got in the running to win the $5,000 Home Hardware Gift Card and bragging rights for the entire year! The BEST proven ideas were chosen to be presented during the 2023 Great Canadian Idea Share at the conference in Montreal. See below for this year's lineup – a great idea is just waiting for implementation at your course next year!

presented by: 


WINNER - Jason Porter - Riverside Golf Club - Staff Wellness

Coming in to 2023 season we recognized the difficulty of filling staffing positions and we were struggling with retention.  In the winter of 2023 we implemented a wellness package for all staff working at Riverside.  Fulltime staff would receive $100 a month and parttime $50 to put towards wellness.  It could be used for new sneakers, a gym membership, supporting a hobby like gardening or anything that contributed to there wellness.  We also allowed students to accumulate the monthly money to put toward school in the fall. We had staff using the wellness for home gym equipment, gym memberships, sneakers, flowers for gardening, hockey sticks, golf shoes, hiking equipment and hunting equipment.  

In 2023 we did fill all of our positions at the club but the most exciting part was our exit surveys.  We asked if they liked the program and received a 100% score and when asked if the would recommend us to friends or family we received a score of 97% and lastly we asked if they would return in 2024 and again received a 97%.


2nd Place - Brian Schaal - Copper Point - Golf Cart Advertising

In 2018 we started a Golf Cart Advertising Program where we put a company's advertising (sticker) on the driver's side and passenger side of the power cart. This is a 4 year deal where the 4th year is free, keeps them from backing out after 1 year. The cost of the program is $1,300 for the 1st year, $1,100 for the 2nd year, $950 for the 3rd year and the 4th year is FREE ($3,350 total). We add rounds of golf to the deal, 4 rounds on The Point Course and 4 rounds on The Ridge Course each year which nets us $104.69 per round, as well as the residual income from golf shop merchandise, food & beverage, lessons and continued support after the rounds are used up. Last year our average green fee on The Point Course was $73.60 and on The Ridge Course was $45.17. We also do a social media program where players can post a picture of themselves with the golf cart with advertising on it and hash tag copperpointgolf or gettothepoint and they are automatically entered into a monthly draw for 2 rounds on each course. The Golf Cart advertisers love the social media aspect and see even more value in the program.
We currently have 49 carts with advertising which brings in over $20,000 in revenue each year just from the sponsorship dollars. The program has been running since 2018, so 6 years at $20,000 each year.


3rd Place - Blake Clayton - Blue Devil - Welcome to Golf Day

At Blue Devil for the past 2 years we have been running our Welcome to Golf Event as we try and do our part to grow the game and get some new players who might be nervous or scared to come to a golf course for the first time as they aren't quite sure what to do. 
With an event like this we wanted to be sure to have as many spots as possible available so we ran the event over an 8 hour period so we didn't have to turn anyone away.  I was able to able build the registration page using our online store so registration was organized and easy to manage.  To get the word out we used our Email database and social media platform with the link attached which took them directly to the registration page.  On the registration page participants were offered 6 different 3 hour options (I have an image I can include to show the registration page as I cant attach it here) 9am to 12pm, 10am to 1pm, 11am to 2pm, 12pm, 3pm, 1pm to 4pm and 2pm to 5pm.
We opened registration up to 50 people per session which would make a sell out at 300.  In order to manage the large groupings as the times do overlap we built a schedule for each session which was emailed out to all participants so they were aware of what time to arrive and where they were going every step of the way.  We had volunteers that helped take each group to and from each location we had set up for them to make it as easy as possible. 

The time breakdown looked something like this using the 9am to 12pm time slot as an example:

- Arrive 10 minutes before your start time and check in at registration

-9am to 9:20am you had a lesson on the driving range with a PGA Professional ( or an avid players who has a passion for the game)  the lesson would go over basic things like golf course etiquette,  what clubs to use and when, grip, stance, set up and of course safety.  Players were then giving the chance to hit balls while receiving some 1 on 1 coaching.

- 9:20 to 9:40am players were able to hit balls on the range if they wanted and use the putting green- a volunteer was stationed at the putting green to help players out on the ins and outs of putting if needed. 

- 9:45 to 10am we did a golfer meeting to let everyone which hole they will be heading out to.  The 50 players were split up over 9 holes with rentals sets set up on each tee box for players who needed them.  Players were shuttled out by volunteers in carts to the holes that were a little bit too far too walk.

- 10am to 11am Players were given 1 hour to play their assigned hole as many times as they wanted, they were able to take their time and move at their own pace as no other players would be in front or behind them forcing them to rush and feel uncomfortable.  we had volunteers check in on all the groups to make sure they had everything they needed and to answer any questions that might pop up. At 11am the golfers walked or were shuttled off the course making way for the next group.

-11am to 12pm- We run a complimentary barbeque with hot dogs, chips and drinks and at out facility we have a mini putt which players were able to go around and play to cap off a great 3 hours learning to play and becoming comfortable at a golf course.

In 2022 we had 250 players participate and in 2023 we over sold the event due to the popularity and did 320 players.

At Blue Devil we work with some great companies that are big golf lovers so I was able to pitch the idea to them and instantly they wanted to come on board as the presenting sponsor.  As the presenting sponsor we were able to charge a small fee to cover the cost of the day and they helped out by providing staff to volunteer and they were kind enough to include a swag bag of knickknacks for each player.  The commitment to giving back to the community is certainly something many companies in your area are passionate about and have adopted so im confident that you would be able to find some financial help and volunteers without too much effort.

It really is an amazing day and to see so many new golfers leave with a smile on their face is really what its all about!!!!

The outcome was bringing in hundreds of new golfers not only to the game but to our business who might not of know who or where we were before this event.  The goal would be to transition these participants into customers if possible but the exposure just from word of mouth is something you cant put a price on.  Also its a great way to give back to your community and make sure your neighbors and community know you care and give back.


4th Place - Kevin Graf - Woodside Golf Course - Gimme Sticks

We wanted to solve two issues that we were having in our leagues which were 1. Cheating, and 2. Slow Pace of Play. This is why we introduced the "Gimmie Stick". The Gimmie Stick was a wrap that we attached to each of our pins on the golf course. This wrap had a 2 and 3 foot gimmie line that we allowed our league players to use as a measuring tool for appropriate gimmie lengths! They simply laid the flag down from the hole and if their ball was inside the 3 foot line, they could pick up their ball. 

We had found our pace of play to be very slow with some groups that were putting everything out and really grinding over short putts. On the other side of that, there were players that were taking gimmies of longer lengths that we got complaints about. The Gimmie stick gave the same guidelines for all of our players for the appropriate gimmie length and made it fair for everyone. Not only did it help eliminate the cheating, it really improved our pace of play for all of our leagues. 

We found it not only popular with our leagues, but also with public players on our weekends that took full advantage of the gimmie lengths! We sold it as part of our experience in our first tee script! 

The wraps for our Gimmie Sticks cost us $2 per sticker so it was very inexpensive and really helped solve the issues we were having.
The outcome was a faster pace of play, limited cheating in our leagues and a better experience for everyone!


James Presnail - Shadow Ridge Golf Club - AI Developed Digital Irrigation Monitoring System

It all began at the NGCOA conference in Vancouver when Scott Stratten's story inspired me. He shared how he stopped playing golf, and no one reached out to bring him back. This sparked a discussion on how to reconnect with lost golfers, but the challenge was identifying who had left.  My solution was a facial recognition system in pro shops, powered by AI. It would notify us when golfers hadn't visited for a certain period. Despite my lack of technical background, I leveraged AI to create this system in just 30 days, showcasing AI's potential.  While facial recognition was a milestone, my greatest idea with proven resutls involved an AI-driven digital irrigation monitoring system. When one of our irrigation pumps failed in 2023, I used AI to design a live monitoring system with microcomputers and PSI sensors. It optimized irrigation by tracking PSI levels, identifying leaks, and helping manage water delivery efficiently. AI guided me through coding and component selection.  AI's incredible capabilities drive innovation.  PS , Ai wrote this.

Using AI, I developed a digital irrigation monitoring system to address our golf course's irrigation challenges in 2023. With one of our irrigation pumps failing abruptly, we were left with only half the system. Leveraging microcomputers and PSI sensors, I created a real-time monitoring system that tracked PSI levels during nighttime irrigation. This data allowed us to optimize zone management for maximum pressure and flow, and it helped us detect system leaks when PSI levels dropped. AI played a key role in coding the project and guiding component selection. By hosting the live data on a website, our superintendent could identify issues and fine-tune our irrigation system for improved performance and efficiency.  It's also very worth noting, that doing this with AI and Amazon components the cost was under $100.  Where as I would guess a professional system like this would cost 10's of thousands of dollars to develop and implement.


Leonard Gendron - Hammond Golf and Country Club - "Community"

The golf industry is always attempting to find ways to increase and retain participation. As a golf course in a small town we've decided to establish ourselves as a community-based establishment where everyone is welcomed, golfer or not, through a year-round approach that has not only increased our successes, but also changed people's perception of the industry.    Community" is a simple concept     that can have a low-investment and yield a high ROI while building long-lasting relationships with your clientele and other people/groups in your business community. So not only does the "community" approach strengthen your own golf course     it helps support the people and businesses in your area     encompassing the true essence of the word.  Using the sport and landscape of the golf course as our anchor we've been able to partner with local businesses     in creative ways to expand and grow our model.  We have partnered with Broken Stick Brewing Co to open Canada's first craft brewery on a golf course.  Once COVID hit we established a partnership with Hammond Hill - a wilderness retreat that offers tiny-homes yurts and glamping tent rentals.  This is conveniently located on site and has now expanded to include Small Living Company who rents out space inside our clubhouse to help promote the tiny home movement. We also recently established a partnership with Country Moments Spa to open a new location within our clubhouse.  The rent from these businesses allows us to reinvest in the course with repairs upgrades and improvements and even more ability to market our community message.   In an attempt to change people's perception of typical stereotypes of the golf industry we've been able to expand our services/events to compliment the traditional golf model and grow our overall numbers and profits while distinguishing ourselves from the other courses. We take advantage of our large indoor space to host clothing and food bank drives in the off season.  Our local Optimists club frequently uses our halls to run their events.  Our patio is dog friendly.  We offer free ski and snowshoe trails on the course in the winter and a free skating rink on our patio.  Our golf course is adjacent to a well used snowmobile trail  and we cater to that traffic with onsite parking and specials.  We also host many family-friendly events including live wrestling, movie nights, escape rooms     comedy nights, trivia fundraisers, paint nights and live local music every week. These events allow us to remain open year-round and help another extremely important member of our community-our staff.  Regular and predictable hours mean lower staff turnover and less need to re-train seasonal staff. Perhaps our biggest community achievement is creating a safe and inclusive space for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. We are the first golf course in Canada to be a member of the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and through our inclusive events including Pride parties,drag bingo, and burlesque brunch we have increased non-traditional foot traffic to the golf club.  How can we be so sure these initiatives are actually working? Since implementing our LGBTQ2S+ events we have seen over $44 000 in ticket sales since 2022.  We have welcomed guests and performers from all over Ontario and Quebec to our little town.  We have been proud to give back to the community thorough donations to Around the Rainbow, an Ottawa based organization that provides education     counselling and support services to 2SLGBTQI+ families and individuals.  We were also thrilled to be able to donate over $17 000 to date to Rainbow Railroad, a Toronto organization that helps at-risk LGBTQI+ individuals around the world get to safety.    Embracing ourselves as a community-based golf course has not only allowed us to help those around us     but we've seen new faces translate into green fees and people choosing us as their preferred membership course. We've seen an increase in our booked events like tournaments, weddings, anniversaries, and holiday parties.  Families who golf in the afternoon will stay after for delicious food and a cold pint of our craft beer and we have one family who recently built their home across the street from us because of the "community" message we are trying to create.  We feel so proud to be a part of our community.  In 2022 we were overwhelmed by the support from our members and other guests who came out in droves to help us recover from the derecho storm damage. More than the proceeds from our events that payback showed just how much of an impact we have locally.   Creating a safe local space where everyone feels welcome not only benefits us. it benefits our community as a whole to become bigger     better and stronger.  Our Great Canadian idea is one simple but significant word; community. 


Brittany Nigh - White Squirrel Golf Club - Ladies Mystery Bus Tour

Imagine this...hopping on a bus in the morning with nothing but your golf clubs and the wind in your hair! You're heading to a new destination, for 18 holes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, a bit of shopping, a couple beverages, and 50 of your new best golf buddies. The best part? All you had to do was sign up.   Sounds like a great idea, right!? We think so too. Our Ladies Mystery Bus Tour was the first public tour of its kind this summer (in our area at least!). Tickets sales were open to everyone! We worked with a premium club in our area for our destination, rented a coach bus, and sold out at 52 seats ($220/pp). Everyone boarded the bus without knowing our destination -which was half the fun! We provided breakfast on the bus, and lunch & dinner at our destination course. We also ran some games prior to and after tee-off. We chose a theme -black & white with a pop of colour- to encourage merchandise sales at our own course before the event. Ladies also had time to shop at our destination course before and after their golf. We tested the waters on the focus" of the event -whether it would be just for fun or more competitive and things were pretty split. Because of that  we offered 2 categories - just "fore fun" or a 2-player best ball format. We had tremendous support from vendors for prize donations. Because of the high demand,  we're upping the price this year -and we still anticipate a sellout tour. 

Immediately, when we got back from the day out, all the ladies gathered on our patio to enjoy more cocktails. We saw groups of women who have golfed in the same leagues for years, yet never crossed paths mingling together. It was definitely a day for building relationships and creating connections. We've found there to be a lack of these types of fun golf outings specifically designed for female golfers. Additionally, we tend to find many female players lack a large network of other female players to join events like this with -so selling tickets as singles or twosomes encouraged people to join despite not having a full foursome. Some of the feedback we got was that we chose a course where ladies wouldn't normally book on their own, so we were happy that we were able to force them out of their comfort zones! The Mystery Bus Tour let our members and guests know that even as a public course, we're committed to providing opportunities for female golfers to explore and continue to expand their golf course knowledge and experiences!



Pat Gauthier - La Broquerie Golf Course - Hole in One Classic

We decided to have a Hole in One Classic this season, transforming all of our holes into par threes with a prize on each for a hole-in-one, ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 in prizes. Teams enter in groups of 4 (2 teams per tee box) and play a scramble (shotgun start), along with the chance for the hole-in-one. To ensure it did not become an event where teams felt they needed to stack their team for the scramble part, we only gave a small prize to the top team (money back), while giving individual prizes on each hole for closest to, as well as the longest putt. The putt prize was awarded to the whole team ($50 each in golf course money), regardless of who made the putt.

Keeping in mind that this event would be done quicker than a scramble, we had to come up with a more efficient way to keep the golfers hydrated than the 2 beer carts that typically roam the course. Therefore, we set up "beverage stations" on holes 3, 6, 12, and 15, with the clubhouse being available after 9 and 18. Golfers were aware that beverages were available every 3 holes, so they could choose to stock up if needed or wait for the next station (which didn't happen often).


Carrie Julie - Sawmill Golf Course - First on the Course

First On The Course - an online auction in support of The Sawmill Junior Golf Foundation.  We needed something unique with little work required to raise money for our junior "grow the game" initiatives.  I came up with "First On The Course".    The online auction platform was free and easy to set up.  We opened the auction for 7 days and promoted it via our social email channels and email database at no cost.    So what is "First On The Course"?   *a foursome gets our18 hole golf course ALL to themselves the day before the course opens for the season (9am to 5pm).  Greens are cut and rolled, bunkers are raked, pins are in! *A welcome gift upon arrival (towel, balls, tees). *Personalized cart signs that read Junior Golf Hero  *Three course contests - 2 Closest to Pin & Long Drive (prizes donated) *A personal concierge for the day to deliver beverages and snacks at their whim (labour is donated) *A 3 course lunch served on the patio.  The table is set with linens and served by myself, the owner.  The lunch is catered by a local restaurant and the guests pick their entrees upon arrival. Wine is donated by a partner winery. 

In year one (2022), First On The Course generated $975 less ($200 expenses).  At the end of the day, the winner suggested that we auction off two groups the following year (one group tee off #1 & a second group tee off #10) with a 30 minute staggered start to continue the private feel of the experience but with the hopes to generate more money.    In year two (2023), First on The Course had two groups with bids of $1600 & $1000 for a grand total of $2600!!!!!  Our expenses were $400.    We will again auction off First On The Course in 2024 with the goal to generate $3000, net $2600..... with all proceeds go to grow the game!  First On The Course = little work with a BIG reward.  How many kids will we introduce to the game of golf with the $2600? At Sawmill, a heck of a lot!


Dany Beauséjour - Golf le Sélect - Free Clubs for Juniors

Offering free sets of clubs for children of ALL sizes, for left-handed and right-handed players, on the practice field and golf course.

Every year, hundreds of children are happy and especially proud to have their own golf bag, to sling it over their shoulders and start their careers as young golfers. Their eyes sparkle like on their first day of school every time! The bags are colorful sets with 9 colors for ages 2 to 16, matching the child's size. As the child grows a year older, the bag changes color, much like advancing a belt in karate. They are very proud, always looking forward to the next year to try their new, larger clubs. The key is the happiness of the children, and there is nothing better than that to make them your future customers and the future customers of our beautiful industry for the next 70 years. I always say, there is only one time in our lives when we play our first round of golf and we remember it forever, so be the golf course that allows a future golfer to have you in their memories for the rest of their days! An important fact: 9 out of 10 children who come with their clubs do not have the right size. Would you like to play with a driver 4 sizes too small or too big? Interestingly, the ski industry offers rental options for children in various sizes of skis and boards. They must stock all sizes of ski and board boots, multiple sizes of helmets, and adjust all equipment to the weight and size of each child. Alarmingly, in the golf industry, only a few golf courses offer all sizes of junior clubs, and this hinders the long-term development of the industry. My figures for 2023: 329 happy children aged 2 to 15 and 103 rounds for 16-17 year-olds. Parents are really happy to introduce golf to their children or grandchildren. Initial investment: a few thousand dollars. Returns: Who cares! In English, we say Priceless ;)


Kevin Layte - Rochester Place Resort - "Par 54"

"Par 54" Our golf course starting this year could be played as a Par 54 as we added additional tee decks on each hole creating a Par 3  golf course inside of our 18 hole model.