It’s been an interesting few years, especially if you live in Arizona. We have over 300 public golf courses in the Southwest Section PGA (SWSPGA) and an additional 80+ private courses, or country clubs. They’ve weathered the storm of the recession, just like most of us….trying to re-invent themselves, re-package their golf experiences, market to a whole new set of consumers, in an effort to gain their business and in some cases add memberships to replace the members they’ve lost…. just to break even. But, the golf courses that have made it through to the other side, that have survived “inside the tornado”, have learned a great deal about their consumers, their staff, and their memberships. This is the stuff that is priceless. This is the stuff that makes you better than you were; it’s the stuff that inspires others to follow, to take a risk, to try different things, to look at the picture in a whole new way, to innovate!
Golf Realty Network wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for a few “outside the box” thinkers, coming together one January day to explore possibilities. Heck, we weren’t even talking about a partnership or www.TheTeeTimeStore.com online reservation system. We were talking about Canadian Seminars….and how best to attract Canadian home buyers to the Valley to attend one of our “Canadian Snowbird in America” seminars that Author Terry Ritchie of the famous book, The Canadian Snowbird in America, was going to present. SWSPGA’s Curt Hudek and Vito Berlingeri were gracious enough to send invitations to their Pros and Membership about the event being held at the ASU Karsten Club House, and we were there to thank them, and give them a little bit more background on us. We were also prepared to listen to their needs and see if there might be a way to support one another’s business goals. After hearing their plans for the SWSPGA’s future we knew we had a MATCH. Golf and Real Estate…what a great combination. Luckily, we were there at just the right time. They had a need….increase consumer traffic, help drive memberships, improve profitability. And we had a need….attract more home buyers to the Valley, increase revenue and drive the brand.
But even knowing all of this, there was still something that I needed to understand…Why is it that people from all walks of life, whether they are golfers or non-golfers love the idea of living in a golf community? If I knew this, I could be a better REALTOR, I could be a better salesperson, I could be a better mentor to others joining Golf Realty Network. So, I decided to explore this reality by first going to an old friend’s theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
You see, Maslow decided after conducting his experiments and validation trials that people aspire to fulfill inherent needs, by degrees of satisfaction….five (5) areas of Needs: 1) Food/Shelter, 2) Financial/Safety, 3) Belonging/Love, 4) Self -Esteem/Self-Worth and 5) Self Actualization/Being All You Can Be. They move from one level of need to another, always aspiring to fulfill a need to a degree of satisfaction. Why do they keep moving? Because once you’ve satisfied one need, you will move to the next greatest need that needs to be satisfied. Yes, this could be up or down. You’re inner voice will always want to move towards Self-Actualization, which is the highest Need Level. But, here’s the BUT, once you arrive at Self-Actualization, and some people never do arrive at Self Actualization, you don’t necessarily stay there. Life happens… good friends pass away, some friends come and go, finances rise and sometimes quickly fall, people lose their homes to foreclosure, work gets in the way of pleasure, and so forth. These are all reasons for us to travel up and down the Pyramid of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. But keep in mind it’s about degrees of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The more dissatisfied we are in one of the five Needs, the more we will seek out that need and try to satisfy it, before we move to the next. And, Oh YES! We move up and down the pyramid….just as we move up and down in life! Never static, always changing.
Okay, so what does this all have to do with golfers and non-golfers wanting to live in a golf community?
We’ve had quite a few clients, in the past 6 months or so, talk to us about living in a golf community. Because we started Golf Realty Network, we’re getting more and more calls from people/families wanting to move to Arizona, either looking for a vacation/second home experience or their new primary home. When we ask them if they play golf, half of the time they respond, “No, we just like the look and feel of a golf community, and we knew you and your team would be able to support our real estate needs.” This answer to that question is what led me to explore the WHY behind the WHAT. Why do people, golfers and non-golfers, truly like to be in a golf community? It’s about fulfilling Needs.
Well, think about it. You’ve got a couple, a family, that needs shelter….a home. That’s great for REALTORS selling houses. Then you’ve got people of all different means, financially. Some with lots of money to spend, some with modest amounts…but, they are all looking to be safe. That’s why you’ll see gated communities, guard gates and smaller cluster of homes built around cul-de-sacs….with No Exit signs posted, etc. There is a safety concern in all of us. We want to know who we’re living next to, who’s down the street. We want to know our neighbors…even though we may not want to socialize with all of them.
But, the BIGGEST REASONS why golfers and non-golfers love living in golf communities are just coming up….as we move up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need: Belonging, Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization.
True story, we had a client ask us what the three best golf courses are in Scottsdale…of course, we all have our own opinions, depending upon which magazine you read, which analyst you talk to, what course you belong to and your own experiences. Each course is unique and they all are great courses. So, we offered our perspective on which private country club they may want. The interesting point of all this is that as we were uncovering their needs, desires, what they wanted from a country club and the golf course….we changed our minds about the three courses we initially chose. Because based on their needs and what they wanted their experience to be…..it wasn’t just about the golf course. It was about the Social, Belonging and Esteem needs. Who would they hang out with? Who could they sit and have a beverage with after playing 18 holes? What about social activities that the club sponsors, did they have a nice restaurant? Did the ladies have a “play day”? Were the spa facilities for both men and women? What about working out? Was there a personal trainer available.
We realized that golf is a common denominator for the masses. Because if you think of a golf community….it’s not just about the course…albeit, for those that are true, diehard golfers, you might beg to differ. But, my point is that our customers, our consumers, our homeowners and home buyers want and need the things that a golf community offers like Shelter, Safety, Social, Esteem and the ability to Self-Actualize. Our golf communities, whether private or public, seem to fit the bill for our home buyers. They don’t have to play golf to understand, need, and want the things that a golf community offers.
The sheer beauty of the course and club house, the friendliness of the staff…greeting you and helping you find your way, the impeccable service and customer focused attitude of the staff and management….and the people that seem to gravitate to the course, the club house….all want the same thing…to be treated like someone special, to be free to experience the golf course and community, and to know that they are not alone, that others are wanting and needing the same things out of life.
I think we’re experiencing a new age of NEED. The “greed is good” model has long gone by the wayside, along with its notorious leaders….and we’ve entered into a period where what matters most is how one lives his/her life. The golf community atmosphere seems to fulfill an inherent need in all us. A community need. Belonging to a community of like-minded people that share a common goal and desire a lifestyle where they can enjoy family, friends, and be able to give back to the community in one voice. Yes, it’s relaxing, beautiful and sometimes indulgent…but, it’s also about the people. People create the culture…not a building or one person. People create the culture of the club, the community.
So next time, you start thinking about why a non-golfer would want to live in a golf community….you’ll know. It’s because everyone aspires and desires the same five Needs in life. We might as well start with the 390+ golf courses in the Southwest Section PGA. The Golf Pros and Club Membership folks would love to show you around and show-off their little piece of heaven and the culture they’ve helped to create. You decide which course/community “fits” YOU!