Making The Most of Golf Course Photography in Your Marketing Program

February 26, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Making the Most of Golf Course Photography

14th Hole, Mountain Shadows, Scottsdale, AZ14th Hole, Mountain Shadows, Scottsdale, AZCongratulations to Forrest Richardson and the folks at Mountain Shadows. The newly redesigned property just received a 2016 Design Excellence Award from The American Society of Golf Course Architects, and was featured in By Design Magazine. Marketing your business... whether that business is golf course design or a golf and country club... is all about showing prospective customers what you can do for them. And the proper use of photography in that effort can be the difference between between looking fully professional and not so much... and even the difference between success and failure. Of course these days, with the advent of smart phones, everyone's a photographer.  So why is professional photography even relevant any more? 

The reason? Well, there are two types of photographs… 


Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.43.05 AMScreen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.43.05 AM







Rising Sun on 5Rising Sun on 5A beautifully developing sunrise on the par 3 5th hole on Tiburon Golf Club's Gold Course, in Naples, Florida.







I’ll describe each of these types of photos in more detail later but first, let’s get personal for a moment.  Assume for a few minutes that you’re single. You’re successful. You’re busy. And you’re lonely. But you really want to find that special someone, so since you don’ have time to go looking for the perfect mate, you sign up on  You fill out your profile in great detail, so anyone who’s interested can learn all there is to know about you.  And then you have to select your profile picture. 

Do you use this photo?...

AdobeStock_110268003AdobeStock_110268003Overweight guy sitting on the couch with remote in hand trying to watch some TV.




Or this one? 

AdobeStock_176285482AdobeStock_176285482Handsome man resting on a yacht




I know. It's a tough choice. And really... why should the photo matter, anyway? After all, anyone who’s interested can learn all they need to know about you by reading your profile, right? Maybe so, but the truth is, to compel "that perfect match" to read your profile, you first have to capture their attention.  You have to make that first cut.  So I could be wrong, but I’m guessing you'll be posting the second photo.

Your business is also seeking a match, and whether that match is a developer interested in building a new golf course or a prospective club member, the first thing you must do is capture their attention. And to do that consistently and effectively, nothing works better than great photography… the kind of images I refer to as ones that "Inspire an Exclamation".  Because if you don’t pique your prospect's interest instantly, you won’t make that first cut.  Your competition… who IS using great photography… will.  Your wonderful profile will go unread, and you’ll never know. No matter how compelling your marketing pitch is, it won’t matter.  Because that first impression is what captures your prospect’s imagination and motivates them to dig deeper.  

All that being said, there is also a good use for those cell phone photos and the snapshots your members offer you.  These shots, the ones that “Require An Explanation”, are what I call “Homemade Photos”.  They are perfect for social media, email newsletters and for use in a secondary role on your web sites.  You post the photo, you write a brief explanation.  Someone responds.  You reply.  Someone else responds.  And you have engagement. Perfect. 

Troon Golf & Travel Magazine, Digital Edition - Cover, January, 2016Troon Golf & Travel Magazine, Digital Edition - Cover, January, 2016This cover of Troon Golf and Travel features an image of the 7th and 8th holes at Kapalua's Plantation Course. But for the more competitive arenas… headline locations on your web sites; print materials, including brochures and portfolios; and publications… especially publications... homemade photos really have no place.  You'll never see a homemade photo on a magazine cover. In these areas, it’s important that you “Inspire an Exclamation” to stand out in the crowd and capture the attention of your target market. 

So I’m curious… why are great golf course architects and exceptional golf clubs not paying closer attention to how the world sees them?  It could be that you don’t care, or don’t know any better.  Or it could be that the perceived cost of having professional photography done is holding you back.  If you’re in the first category, do some internet searching.  Are your competitors using professional imagery in their marketing efforts?  If so, then you’d better start caring, because they’re making that important first cut, and inspiring their prospects to learn more. If cost is your concern, do some research.  There are a lot of photographers out there, and we all do business differently.  Find a few professional golf course photographers whose work impresses you and ask them for more information, including costs and deliverables.  Ask if their rates are based on a day rate or per project.  Once you have real information, based on today’s market, you can make better decisions about whether professional photography will provide a good ROI.

I doubt if a photograph ever inspired a developer or a prospective member to sign an agreement. I know my images don’t have that kind of influence, and I’m unaware of any other pro who claims that to be the case.  But what a professional can do is help you to make the first cut and inspire your prospect to keep you among the “possibles” as they research their options.  As one who makes that first cut, you’ll be able to present your case, and thru the genuine quality of your offering make the sale.   

So in 2018, give some serious thought to how the world sees you.  And note that I didn’t write, “what the world reads about you”.  Our culture, as a whole, suffers from attention deficit disorder.  It’s your choice whether you’re defeated by that cultural predilection or whether you take advantage of it by making sure you always show your best side when it counts.



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