Case stories

Stensballegaard Golf Club monitors return to success through satisfaction tracking

Stensballegaard Golf Club recently saw a decline in their member satisfaction scores, which led them to bring on new forces in the team, learn from their slips, and make changes based on member feedback. Now, the Danish club has set an ambitious goal of restoring their scores to their starting point in 2016.

Lucas Balleby
April 9, 2024

In the seventh largest city in Denmark, you'll find a golf club with award-winning architecture. The roughly 900 members and 5,000 yearly visitors at Stensballegaard Golf Club [Stensballegaard Golfklub] can boast about having played at the golf resort that won the 2010 Development of the Year Award by Golf Inc. Magazine, with the famous architecture firm von Hagge, Smelek and Baril being the mastermind behind the club design.

The club can also parade with being an early bird when it comes to utilizing member and guest feedback, being an active user of the Players 1st solution since it became available for Danish golf clubs in 2016. The commercial golfing venue, which has 27 holes and a 9-hole par 3 course, has used various survey templates to track satisfaction scores at the club for quite some time now.

This feedback-based performance tracking actually played a part in the golf manager at Stensballegaard Golf Club, Holger Westman, noticing a grim decline in the club's overall member satisfaction score. Recognizing that a cut in this score signals the need for change, Westman took action to turn things around.

Monitoring changes might be as important as making changes

From 2020 to 2022, the Net Promoter Score at Stensballegaard Golf Club took a big hit for the first time since the club began surveying its members.

Figure 1: The development of the Net Promoter Score at Stensballegaard Golf Club from 2016-2022. Source: Players 1st
Figure 1: The development of the Net Promoter Score at Stensballegaard Golf Club from 2016-2022. Source: Players 1st

A glance into the Players 1st dashboard confirmed what Westman feared at the time. The similarity between the dip in scores for the overall satisfaction at the club and the satisfaction with the course was clear. Something was off.

Our surveys for members are essentially our main management decision-making tool. So, when our satisfaction score started to drop, we could see both in the Players 1st dashboard and through talking with the golfers on the course that our product was inconsistent. It would be excellent one day and then not so good 3-4 days later because we didn't manage to balance this.
Holger Westman, General Manager at Stensballegaard Golf Club

As the member feedback about the course was mostly negative, the club decided to bring some fresh perspective to their greenkeeper team while diving into the feedback to see exactly where to brush up.

On top of that, the club decided to let the greenkeepers do their magic on the golfing grounds instead of giving in to the temptation of asking them to do other tasks at the clubhouse in peak season – a call which actually also can lead to increased job satisfaction of greenkeepers.

The now positive comments from the survey and the general attitude within the golf club quickly showed that a development had happened. Everything just lifted, and we also saw more guests coming in. This is certainly a pat on the back for our team. But that's also why this year's surveys are going to be really exciting. Because what if the numbers fall again? What then?
Holger Westman, General Manager at Stensballegaard Golf Club

After the turnaround and tweaking of working methods, the development is plain as day, with scores in various areas within the dashboard having gone up. In short, the data has proven the change successful – at least for now.

Improving one area can boost or sink other area scores

The excitement is clearly high with a big shift at Stensballegaard Golf Club. But this does not mean they are sleeping on how the club performs in other parts. Because when something new is put into action at a golf club, it will nearly always impact other areas either directly or indirectly – a relationship called the chain of touchpoints.

For this reason, the club keeps an eye on the scores generated from the more than 90 questions they ask in their member survey.

It's really interesting watching how scores shift. When we have improved something, then something else pops up and becomes a huge problem or challenge for people. But when you keep working on those things bit by bit, you begin to see the extent of the problem shrinking, little by little. And that's what the system has always been able to help me with.
Holger Westman, General Manager at Stensballegaard Golf Club

The club sees this ongoing process as a natural step in pushing the club to the next level.

For example, the club spent resources to fix their 115 bunkers since the members asked for it. Similarly, feedback indicated that golfers found it difficult to find the right path on the 140-acre course, prompting the club to purchase a bunch of brand-new next-tee signs and place them in strategic areas. Both are minor adjustments made to improve the experience.

Even though the club has been working on the bunkers and guiding on the course, these scores also went down before the larger changes, with the scores for the distance markers still waiting for a boost. This shows how scores are affected by other areas as well.

Figure 3: The development graphs of different touchpoints at Stensballegaard Golf Club. Source: Players 1st
Figure 3: The development graphs of different touchpoints at Stensballegaard Golf Club. Source: Players 1st

Learning the process of tracking development is worth the time

With the desire to track the impact of the new perspectives in the team and ongoing improvements, there are no signs that Stensballegaard Golf Club will cease surveying its members anytime soon.

But, he sometimes recalls his first days of using feedback and is aware that it can be tough to start learning how to utilize feedback in between the daily, and often time-consuming, operations as a golf club manager. In this situation, he suggests making feedback a club priority and a mission everyone can follow.

For those who have access to Players 1st but don't actively utilize it: take the time to understand it and analyze the data there. And invite others into that space where you discuss the insights and findings. Whether it's the Head Greenkeeper, Chairman of the Board, or whoever it may be. Use the opportunities to share these reports and the data with someone who can understand them and act on them. It can really make a difference.
Holger Westman, General Manager at Stensballegaard Golf Club

Now, as a long-term user of Players 1st, Holger Westman knows how to leverage feedback. For this reason, he is confident that the new and ongoing actions at the club will bring it back to its baseline of an overall member satisfaction score of 60 – a journey that will be monitored closely through feedback.

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