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Well over 20 million people golf, and many people who enjoy the sport would like to improve their game. A golf instruction business offers golfers individual and group lessons. Business owners may offer lessons at public or private courses, driving ranges or students’ homes.
Who is this business right for?
Anyone who enjoys golf and likes interacting with people may be well-suited for owning a golf instruction business. In order to teach the game, it’s necessary to be highly accomplished at it. It’s also helpful to be a people person, as business owners are frequently interacting directly with students.
What happens during a typical day at a golf instruction business?
Golf instruction business owners spend much of their time instructing students, which may involve:
- modeling swings for students
- analyzing and adjusting students’ swings
- videoing students
- reviewing videos with students
- recommending drills for students to practice
When not instructing students, business owners may spend time refining their own golf skills and marketing their business.
What is the target market?
A golf instruction business’ ideal customer is either an aspiring golfer who hopes to play professionally or a wealthy retired individual who enjoys the sport. An aspiring golfer will need regular lessons to continue advancing their skills, while a retired individual has the time and money needed for multiple lessons.
How does a golf instruction business make money?
A golf instruction business makes money by charging students for golf lessons. Students may be charged on a per-lesson basis, or they may pay for a set number of lessons in advance.
What is the growth potential for a golf instruction business?
Most golf instruction businesses operate from one or two areas, but they may have regional or national influence. For example, Start to Finish Golf Academy has two locations, one in New York and one in Florida. Pro Justin Waffle started a golf instruction business in Hilton Head in 2009, which he hoped to grow into a regional and then national school.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful golf instruction business?
Golf instruction business owners may have a difficult time attracting students without becoming a certified PGA golf pro. There are nine steps to becoming certified, including passing qualifying tests. Once certified, the PGA has several advanced certifications that pros can attain. Gaining the skills necessary to become certified by the PGA takes years. Most business owners start out as amateur golfers themselves, taking lessons until they have the skills required for certification.
What are the costs involved in opening a golf instruction business?
The startup costs of a golf instruction business are relatively minimal. Although the application and testing fee for certification are fairly standardized, the cost of certification can vary. Some business owners may need to attend specialized clinics in order to perfect certain skills, take an exam several times if they don’t pass or travel to testing sites. The PGA has an online fee calculator, but business owners should budget a couple thousand dollars more than the calculator notes for other expenses associated with becoming certified.
Other startup expenses include the cost of clubs and video analysis equipment, which can be high. For example, Waffle spent $4,500 on a video analysis system. Business owners who are on a tight budget, though, can use clubs they already have and a basic video recorder. Business owners will also need to pay access fees to a club or driving range, but these should be covered by the cost of each lesson.
What are the steps to start a golf instruction business?
Once you're ready to start your golf instruction business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your golf instruction business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your golf instruction business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a golf instruction business?
Business owners may have a hard time finding a location to instruct students where there isn’t already an instructor, for most golf clubs already have certified golf teaching pros. Owners who aren’t able to find a course to teach at can initially break into the industry by focusing on either driving or the short game (chipping and putting). Driving can be taught at driving ranges, while the short game can be taught right in students’ front or back yards.
How to promote & market a golf instruction business
There are many ways to promote a golf instruction business. All of the following can be effective means of advertising a business:
- posting pamphlets on public bulletin boards
- running advertisements in local publications
- purchasing short commercials on the local sports radio station
- creating advertisements for social media
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How to keep customers coming back
There are three ways a golf instruction business may set itself apart from similar businesses. Business owners can:
- specialize in a particular aspect of the sport (e.g. putting)
- obtain advanced certifications from the PGA
- Use technology that other instructors don’t utilize (e.g. Aimpoint or TrackMan)
How and when to build a team
Local golf instruction businesses are usually one-person operations and don’t have employees. Businesses that grow into regional schools may need one or two additional instructors, and those that become national programs often need three or more instructors.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a golf instruction business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
Release of Liability
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, golf instruction businesses should have their clients sign a release of liability. Here is an example of one such form.
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In business where services are provided on an extended basis, a services contract is often put in place outlining terms and conditions of service.
Golf instruction business should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, and service level expectations.
How much can you charge customers?
CostHelper reports that golf instruction businesses typically charge between $50 and $60 for private lessons that last 30 to 45 minutes. Group lessons are much less expensive, with golfers often paying just $25 per lesson for group lessons with five golfers. These lessons can be more lucrative for a business, though, as more students are paying. When pricing lessons, business owners should first survey the going rates for golf instruction in their area. If it’s different from these averages, owners ought to adjust their prices accordingly. Golf is a discretionary expense, and people will consider the cost of lessons during an economic downturn.
What are the ongoing expenses for a golf instruction business?
The primary expenses of a golf instruction business include:
- PGA association fees, which vary by region but typically total a few hundred dollars (and include insurance)
- the cost of replacing lost golf balls
- course and driving range fees, which should be built into lesson pricing or directly paid for by students
For most businesses, these costs are minimal.
How much profit can a golf instruction business make?
A golf instruction business’ profit potential depends a lot on where the business is located. Businesses in the Northern United States typically only make a portion of those in the Southern U.S., because most people stop golfing when the weather gets cold.
If teaching 40 private lessons per week, a business owner could bring in between $2,000 and $2,400 each week, according to the above figures. Most of this would be profit, as the ongoing expenses are minimal.
How can you make your business more profitable?
A golf instruction business can increase profits by focusing on group lessons and offering weekend clinics that attract lots of golfers. Business owners might also be able to create a series of online instruction videos, which they could make available for a subscription fee.