Business Overview

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.

Getting Started

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 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.

Growing Your Business

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

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.

Legal Considerations

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:

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, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Services Contract

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.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential

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.

Next Steps

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