Kelley Brooke is a living legend in the golf world and has been a figurehead in the industry for 40 years as a player, instructor and business woman. She has taught over 40,000 golf lessons but more importantly has also transformed and elevated the game of golf throughout New York City since 1992. She hasn’t raised her prices since 2003 and gives discounts to seniors and children in an effort to make the game more accessible to the masses. Her passion and drive for success has been able to inspire women entrepreneurs across the globe and I had the honor of speaking to Kelley to get an inside take on how she’s been able to find success in a male dominated sport and inspire other women entrepreneurs along the way. Here’s how it went:
Jay: “Adapt with the times!” is something we hear so much about these days. Yet amazingly you’ve kept your prices the same and even taken a significant portion of your profits and donated them. What has inspired you to maintain such an amazing structure?
Kelley: I started giving lessons in 1992 and haven’t raised my rate since the late 90’s. Where others charge north of $500 per hour, I am at $130 ($110 if you are a senior) because my goal has always been to grow the game through affordable, quality instruction. If the game is not growing, it is dying. By keeping rates low, we have exposed thousands and thousands of people to golf. By doing the right thing, for the right reasons, I have been blessed with success. I am proud to have been awarded numerous city, state and federal concessions due in part to my philanthropic work.
This One is Going to Shock You!
Jay: Golf seems to be that sport that attracts other athletes from EVERY sport, business executives and everyone in between. What is so special about golf that draws such a diverse crowd?
Kelley: Golf is interesting because it is more than a sport. It is an experience and a challenge. It’s technical, statistical, physical and social. There is something for everyone. However, I find that people who are left brained are more attracted to golf than others. A left brained person is analytical. They are detailed, organized and methodical. Attorneys, finance experts and bankers are examples of left brained people. Golf suits their personalities perfectly, especially with the onset of all of the technology and statistical data that is now used in the game.
Leveraging Success to Inspire Women Entrepreneurs
Jay: You’ve done an incredible job not only building your brand but doing so in a male dominated landscape. From that perspective what type of inroad has this created for other female visionaries around the sport?
Kelley: I was recently awarded the 2018 Professional of the Year by the LPGA which has given me an opportunity to speak to large groups of women entrepreneurs and explain that THEY can own their own facilities, camps, schools and golf related businesses. Many women in the industry who aspire to become entrepreneurs have been made to think that they have to take a backseat to PGA Professionals and that the most they will ever be is the Junior Golf Director at their course. They are shocked to hear that there are opportunities out there to own their own operation. I am thankful that I can share my story and educate women on how they can achieve their dreams and inspire other women to become entrepreneurs.
Jay: Every sport in its own way has had to tailor their “product” to be more attractive to the millennial fan base. What has golf done to become more attractive to the younger crowd? Have you implemented anything targeting this demographic at Bethpage?
Kelley: I have implemented a tremendous amount of initiatives to attract a younger crowd. The first thing we did was to build a cool, interactive website with an ecommerce-store. We immediately created social media pages and implemented a geotargeted campaign. We host Facebook Live and Instagram Live Teaching Sessions where golfers can ask questions.
Millennials love technology. If your golf school or course doesn’t have all of the available technology on the market you will not have market share. We added launch monitors in the stalls. Additionally, we have two Trackman Launch monitors. We have K-Vest which is a very cool bio feedback measuring and practice technology. We have Video Analysis, Sam Putt Lab, Blast Motion Sensors, Golf Live and many, many more technologies. We focus on the mind body connection with a device called Opti Brain. This is the most exciting technology that I use. I can put a sensor band on a student and actually see what is going on in his/her brain with brain maps. I get them into a serene state and then aggravate them or challenge them. I can see in real time if they slip out of the zone. If they are not in the zone, we use meditative techniques to help get them back into the zone. It is impossible to not improve with all that we have.
Millennials have also bought into the fitness side of golf performance. We also incorporated golf fitness and a team approach into our programming. We have a Golf Performance Director and most of the team is TPI Certified. The first thing we do in a lesson is to screen golfers for restrictions within their body (flexibility, mobility, stability or strength). We use a great app to perform the screen. We then summon up the team and we work with the player as a team (Golf Coach, Fitness Trainer, Chiropractor and Physical Therapist). We are seeing results that we didn’t see in the past. Rather than try to force golfers into positions that they couldn’t get into, we all work closely as a team to improve fix restrictions and improve the swing.
Jay: What’s your message to other women entrepreneurs looking to pave their own path in the sports business?
Kelley: My message is simple. In this day and age, there are no more excuses. If you want it, go out and take it.