This is a multi-part interview with Mike Tait, a 31-year PGA Professional and the owner of Oswego-based SMT Golf. In addition to being a golf professional, Mike is a club manufacturing expert and his company SMT Golf has produced a number of top clubs for multiple Re/MAX World Long Drive Champions. Mike is also helping to redefine the golf outing business through SMT Golf Outing Services which provides entertainment and fundraising for golf events. You can learn more about Mike’s services at www.smtgolf.com and www.smtgolfoutings.com.
Chicago Golf Report – Can you talk a little bit about SMT Golf Outings and what that involves. I know you have deals with Ruffled Feathers Golf Course and a few other Chicago golf courses. So, talk a little bit about that part of the business.
Mike Tait: Last year we made just over $200,000 for charities, corporations, private golf outings. I am trying to do things a little bit differently.
I have never been a big fan of how golf outings are run. I mean, they always just seem so boring for lack of another world. They ask me to sit down on committees now and they ask me to sit in and help them with their marketing; and again 31 years of being in a PGA here in town, I am surprised at “here is the men’s long drive hole, here is the women’s long drive hole”, and I am thinking how many people in a standard outing can win that, maybe three, maybe three of the guys can win that, maybe three of the women can do that and I am thinking what can everybody else do?
I mean, how much fun is that for them to have long drive holes realistically when 3% of the people in the outing actually hit the green, let alone hit it in the hole. I mean, the cars look nice and that type of thing – but everybody’s doing it. So, we decided to do everything different.
We keep everyone involved instead of just asking for money from golf outing sponsors for the typical boring hole sign – 100 dollars to get your hole sign. We try to get the golf outing sponsors involved.
We have a couple of different programs where we actually get sponsors on what we call our ‘America’s Ticket’ and that is then handed out to every player and actually ends up on their refrigerator for quite a long time because there are special offers from the sponsors. So, they actually see a return on investment.
In other words, I never wanted to ask for money without giving something back, and it’s the same thing that we do on our whole games. So, last year we had two games that we provided. We provided a Par 3 trick shot show thing that I did and we provided a Par 4 long drive champion.
This year we have 20 games that we have created and we have already far surpassed that number for all these outings already. Everybody has called us back and everybody picked this up and has seen what we do and this is really very interesting; but if we ask for money on a hole, in other words, if we ask for 10 dollars on the whole, we give that player back something of value.
We will give them free golf clubs or we will give them free golf dinner discounts. Every time we ask for money, we are giving something back. It’s a non-competitive situation.
I had never liked to be the pro. I never wanted to compete with anybody. If I make a hole-in-one on a par 3 with my trick shot show where I am hitting balls with putters or hammers or baseball bats or drivers off of a 7-foot tee, we give everybody in that group a $500 golf spending spree card.
The same thing applies with our long driver. If the long driver makes a hole-in-one on the Par 4, same thing, everybody in that group gets a $500 golf spending spree card.
So, always giving back so by the time the day is over, every golfer in whatever outing, if it happened to be Special Olympics or whatever it happens to be will end up with $500 to $1,000 worth of gifts from us, and we have created a way to do it for the golf outings at no cost.
Stay tuned for the next installment of this interview.