by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of San Antonio, TX Co-Site Director Manny Guerra
My wife and I wanted to start an incentive program for Girls Golf that would encourage participation, engagement and of course, fun! As we know, one of the biggest challenges of any program is retention. That is to keep our participants interested to keep them coming back. We really strive for them to get the most out of our programs, so we thought that by increasing their level of engagement would increase their level of commitment, which in turn would challenge us to offer them a fun and supportive learning environment.
So how could we add the fun factor while maintaining the integrity of the core lessons of the program? We decided to create an incentive program using tickets.
Here’s how it works:
- Earning Tickets:There are a number of ways the girls can earn tickets weekly, both during and outside of our sessions together. So far we have come up with approximately 8 ways they can earn tickets, for example:
- Attendance – yes, just for showing up every week girls receive tickets.
- Participation – all coaches have the opportunity to hand out tickets during each weekly session for girls demonstrating extraordinary positive participation such as reflecting leadership skills, practicing courtesy, good judgment, etiquette, kindness, etc.
- We also offer non-golfing opportunities for girls to earn tickets including.
Creative Writing Exercises centered on the current Five E of the session. We tried to make these writing exercises fun so they do not resemble homework. The custom word searches have been popular! These exercises are optional and once the girls return them to us they get 5 tickets for completion and an additional 3 if they share with the group during wrap-up. Sharing is something we felt would help the girls develop self-confidence and public speaking which they will definitely need in their futures.
- Another opportunity for tickets we offer is for Practicing. Five tickets are earned by the girls for each bucket of practice balls they hit (on a day other than Girls Golf day) or for playing at least 3 holes on a golf course. They bring us receipts and scorecards, which we stamp and issue them tickets.
- Report Cards have also been extremely popular. We offer tickets based on their 3 highest grades, (3) tickets for each A, (2) tickets for each B and (1) ticket for each C.
- Our goal was to be inclusive in our ways for the girls to earn tickets. We want every girl to have an opportunity to earn as many tickets as they want to. We hoped they would see something on the list that they would feel encouraged to participate in to earn tickets.
- The Rules:The main rule of our ticket program is that the kids are not allowed to ask for tickets J. Additionally, lost tickets will not be replaced so they must write their name on the back of them and put them in the collection receptacle right away. Last rule is that they must be present to win on drawing days (for us it’s the 5th and 9th week of the session), with exceptions for emergencies.
- Finding Prize Donations:The ticket program is a great way to get our local community involved. We created a simple letter sharing information about our program and began reaching out to local businesses. We actually started with me and my wife’s personal donations as well as with family and close friends for prizes and have expanded our reach to local businesses in our community. Simple incentive prizes like movie tickets, museum tickets, gift certificates for manicures/pedicures and haircuts, gift cards, gift basket, girls golf promo items, etc all made for great prizes and helped get the girls excited about the program. We even found some great deals on Groupon which we purchased as prizes.
We are really excited about the program and we are happy to report that it has been warmly received so far. It’s been fun listening our girls say how much they look forward to coming to Girls Golf because of the program or that they didn’t want to miss Girls Golf because they would not get their attendance ticket. My favorite moment was when I was told a participant decided not to drop out because she said the program was “fun now.” It’s been humbling having girls and parents verbalize how fun the program has become. My wife and I have been really touched, which has only inspired us to generate even more ideas to really growing it and making it successful.
We are in Week 7 of the current Session, and had our first drawing during week 5. We gave out approximately 8 prizes and the girls were very excited. We estimated there were over 500 tickets in drawing! That’s so amazing! We have definitely made some tweaks along the way so far, but we are very pleased so far. In fact, the idea that other sites might be encouraged and inspired to begin a similar program is awesome. My wife and I are confident that the girls at all the sites would find it to be quite fun! We would love to see this program really explode!
I’m definitely new to the Girls Golf network, but I knew when I started, I wanted to not only teach the girls golf skills and about the game of golf, but to also impact their lives in a meaningful way. I believe in our programs and all our Five E’s, but more importantly I believe in our youth. With proper guidance I know we are preparing them for so much more than just golf.
I feel blessed to be part of such an inspiring organization as a Co-Site Director and look forward to leading a Girls Golf program one day!