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PGA Magazine Cover Story - Fargo Country Club and Creative Golf Marketing

Fargo Country Club completes turnaround by flood-proofing course and hiring Creative Golf Marketing (Golf Digest Editor's Choice - Best Membership Marketing Firm) to assist in retaining and recruiting members.

"We were seeing a net decrease of 10 members each year, which is a significant number over 10 to 15 years," notes Mark W. Johnson, PGA Head Professional at Fargo Country Club. "We had been suffering damage due to spring and summer flooding from the Red River that runs next to seven of our holes, periodically flooding the course and making it unplayable. Although we were a healthy club financially, the trend of losing members was going in the wrong direction."

So what did Fargo Country Club General Manager Michael Charest, Johnson et al. do to stem the outflow of members? They invested in the golf course - and the future viability of the facility - by partnering with Tom Lehman and his design group to 'flood-proof' the course. Then they hired Creative Golf Marketing to spearhead a membership marketing campaign to reserve the membership exodus and recruit new members.

"It was a significant step for us to seek some help, but it was the best decision we ever made," says Charest, the Fargo general manager. "We knew we needed to change or be swept under the rug. One of the most important things that Steve Graves and his team at Creative Golf Marketing did was introduce a revised fee structure that allowed younger club members to remain members on an affordable basis. The results of the campaign were phenomenal."

Indeed, Fargo Country Club netted 68 new members, a fresh $204,500 in Initiation Fees (good for the small market), an increase of more than $100,000 in dues, a decrease of nearly 70 percent in member attrition, and an average of $70,000 in annual savings in future certificate redemptions.

"As a result, we experienced a new wave of younger members and families that now make Fargo Country Club their home," says Johnson. "I'm not surprised by the success once we fixed our flooding problem and combined with Creative Golf Marketing and their program. Doing business as usual is never an option in the golf industry."


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