Case stories

Members at Smoerum Golf Club are happier than ever: Here’s why

Since 2019, Smoerum Golf Club in Denmark has succeeded in boosting member satisfaction year after year. Their secret? Partly using member insights to respond confidently to feedback and make changes that fulfill most members desires without upsetting those who disagree.

Lucas Balleby
September 25, 2023

In 2019, Smoerum Golf Club [Smørum Golfklub] laid out its strategy for 2025, setting clear goals on how to take the already successful Danish club to new heights. Now, let's fast forward to today. Not only has the club achieved most of its goals ahead of schedule, but it has also seen a steady rise in how satisfied their members feel.

Since they began tracking member satisfaction, the score has skyrocketed from 29 to 50, enabling the club to surpass the national benchmark for the first time in 2023.

Smoerum Golf Club's success from 2019 to 2023.
Smoerum Golf Club's success from 2019 to 2023. Source: Players 1st

Keld Østergaard Christensen, the club's general manager for the past five years, believes that one of their secret weapons has been using Players 1st software to strengthen their bond with their nearly 3000 members. Gathering feedback has given the club a treasure trove of data, with nearly 5000 responses collected over the past five years.

Together with a publicly available strategy with specific dates for when improvements will be made, this data has been a key element in the club’s decision-making and conversations with members.

The act of prioritizing member preferences for the overall best

First, it's crucial to understand that even the best golf club can't please everyone. After all, members have different preferences. For instance, some may not fancy the club restaurant's menu, while others can't get enough of the post-round sandwich.

But whose feedback should a club like Smoerum Golf Club prioritize? And how close could they get to making most of the members happy?

To tackle this challenge, the club turned to the Players 1st dashboard's priority map, which helped them understand what brings most joy to club members. The data revealed that their greens needed attention.

Five years ago, we started receiving negative feedback about our greens. With the help of the Players 1st dashboard, we realized our members cared more about greens than tees. So, we focused on improving the greens first and addressed the tees later. This change led to some criticism of our tees a few years down the line, but since greens were more important for our members, the changes actually elevated the members’ overall satisfaction.
Keld Østergaard Christensen, General Manager at Smoerum Golf Club

The results of prioritizing the greens were not to be missed in the dashboard.

The role of data in handling member concerns

It's not just long-term improvements that Smoerum Golf Club has used feedback for. The continuous increase in satisfaction levels can also be credited to their daily responses to negative feedback.

I routinely reach out to members who provide non-anonymous critical feedback. In 9 out of 10 cases, this approach helps the member better understand the reasons behind their dissatisfaction, and occasionally, they become club advocates by sharing this information with other members.
Keld Østergaard Christensen, General Manager at Smoerum Golf Club

Since they began collecting feedback, the club has received over 1700 detailed comments in response to questions specifically about what the club does well for its members and how they can enhance the experience.

Having data to rely on is crucial. In the past, when only a few people were sitting on the terrace and expressing negative feedback about something, we lacked the data to determine whether it was a common problem. Now, thanks to our comprehensive dataset, we're more confident when addressing criticism and can confirm whether it's a widespread issue or a more personal concern.
Keld Østergaard Christensen, General Manager at Smoerum Golf Club

Receiving negative feedback is a blessing in disguise

Keld Østergaard Christensen believes that their experience shows why all clubs should embrace feedback, both positive and negative.

I believe some people are afraid to face the truth. However, why shouldn't we seek feedback, whether it's positive or negative? I mean, those who actively ask for negative feedback from all members have the chance to validate it and do something about it. On the other hand, those who don't use feedback tools only rely on the loudest voices they hear on the terrace, and this feedback may not necessarily reflect the views of most members.
Keld Østergaard Christensen, General Manager at Smoerum Golf Club

The Danish club, renowned for junior golf, elite golf, and simulator golf, set a goal of achieving a Net Promoter Score of 50 when implementing their strategy in 2019. If they continue leveraging feedback to enhance member experiences, they are likely to celebrate reaching their current goal very soon.

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