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It’s Not the Size of Your Database that Counts


You might have heard it said that “he with the biggest database wins.” If only it were that easy.

If it were that easy, we would make a killing buying email lists and hammering people with sales emails.

If only it were that easy.

The problem with a “size is all that matters” approach is that it typically involves a poor strategy that ultimately devalues the database as it grows. A database filled with low-quality email addresses leads to fewer open rates and more unsubscribes and frustration!

The Wrong Ways to Build an Email Database

Like we mentioned above, the single easiest way to build a huge email database is to buy it. Please don’t. That’s a horrible idea.

Another popular strategy is to run a contest to get as many entries as possible. But before you do…

Your contest prize should be golf related AND be something your customers could otherwise get from your course.

A trip to Augusta is an awesome prize, for sure! But people who sign up because they’re interested in winning the trip likely won’t have much interest in emails about demo days on the driving range or sale items in the pro shop.

Imagine you speaking with your website visitor and you said, “enter my Masters’ giveaway contest and I’ll send you emails about sales I’m having in the Pro Shop.” Does that sound like the ol’ bait ‘n switch?

This type of shady email collection practice happens frequently at retail shops. Have you ever heard a cashier ask if they can email you a receipt and then ask for your email address? Some stores do this as a convenience for customers. Others do it as a way to add them to a marketing list leaving customers saying “all I wanted was my receipt, not all this spam!”

There should be a direct correlation between the hook that earns the email address and regular email content.

The Right Way to Build an Email Database

There are a lot of “best practices” when it comes to building an email database. What works for one golf course might not work for another. My best advice is to try different things, monitor what’s working and what’s not, and adjust accordingly. But there are some simple rules that are found to work in almost all instances.

Rule 1. Ask for email addresses.

I know that sounds obvious, but one of the main reasons golf courses struggle to build an email list is because they simply don’t ask for email addresses.

There are a number of ways and places to ask for the email address on a golf course website. Pop-up windows might seem annoying, but they work! That’s why they’re so common. Your website developer should be able to help you add forms for email collection to your site.

Rule 2. Make the form short. 

What do you need from your website visitor in order to add them to your email database? Their email address. That’s it. That’s all you need.

You could ask for their first name as well, but it’s only necessary if you intend to include their name formatted into the emails you send.

Asking for more information is risky business. For every field you add to a form, you decrease your chances of collecting an email address.

Rule 3. Give them something.

Offer to email a 15% off coupon for goods in the pro shop. Offer 50% off lessons. Offer a free round of golf. These are called “lead magnets” and they work because what you’re offering in return for the email address is of value to the kinds of people who visit your golf course’s website.

Rule 4. Be compelling.

“Sign up for our newsletter” or “join our e-club” don’t collect many email addresses. Newsletters don’t sound very exciting and most probably don’t know what an e-club is anyway, so they don’t feel compelled to leave an email address. Speak to the benefit of joining the list instead. If your newsletter always comes with a special offer or if your “e-club” gets regular discounts in the clubhouse, let that be the hook that gets people to sign up. “Get 50% off your next round of golf,” and then ask for the email address.


When it comes to email databases, size isn’t the most important metric; Quality is #1.

A high-quality database of 3,000 emails with higher open, click-through, and participation rates will often have more valuable email addresses than a high-volume database of 10,000 emails with lower open, click-through, and participation rates.

If you have any questions about this article or anything to do with email marketing for your golf course, drop me a line. I’ll be happy to help however I can.

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About Offcourse Golf

We're Josh & Roger. We started Offcourse Golf to combine our expertise in custom app & web development and digital marketing with our passion for golf. If you're looking to grow your golf business and earn more money, we have the tools and expertise to help.

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