Q&A: Wil Mayo, Rams Hill Golf Club
"Remote" is more familiar than ever, and most of us are ready to shed it from our daily vocabulary. But for the new wave of golf destinations like Bandon Dunes, Streamsong, and Rams Hill, remoteness is an intentionality, and a go-to descriptor in their marketing playbooks. Resorts like these offer uninterrupted golf experiences, and the opportunity to slow down. Wil Mayo gets this.
Wil is Director of Business Development at Rams Hill Golf Club in Borrego Springs, California—a three-hour drive from Los Angeles. The inland desert location yields temperatures upwards of 110 in the summer, forcing the golf club into an offset calendar—they're shut down from June to November. This gives Rams Hill a distinct advantage, marketing its club to snow-weary travelers when most North American courses are in hibernation.
Wil alludes to his wariness of being just another "sales guy". He isn't. Instead, Wil is a genuine communicator—a jargon-free evangelist of the experiences waiting for you at Rams Hill. Wil's authenticity has helped create a steady buzz for Rams Hill within the golf community: golf photography nomad, Matt Cardis (@golfinyourstate) took a month-long residency at Rams Hill, capturing the essence of the stay-and-play resort. The club's annual tournament, The Ramateur, sells out quickly and is propped up by a range of partners.
Additionally, Wil hosts a quarantine-bred podcast, GolfNeedsYou (available on Spotify), where he interviews—occasionally from his car in a Costco parking lot—golf creatives and business owners. The conversations are quick, authentic, human.
I passed Wil a handful of questions about his work at Rams Hill, and his thoughts on golf's creative community. Give him a follow on Instagram at (@ramshillwil), tune into GolfNeedsYou, and enjoy our interview below.
I think golf needs you to be yourself and it's cool that this weird golf social media world gives everybody an opportunity to do that.
The Bag Bandit: What's a day in the life for you at Rams Hill, when you're in season?
Wil Mayo: So, Rams Hill is a seasonal destination. We open for the season in late October / early November, and we close for the summer in early June. Fortunately, this is my full-time gig all year round, but in-season is definitely a different animal. My job is essentially to drive golfers to Rams Hill, however I can. Primarily, I am booking Stay&Plays and group getaways.
I've said this a number of times before, but I'm not a big work/life balance guy. To me, that says that you've gotta turn off work to go enjoy life and vice versa. For me, I enjoy the fact that my work and my life are integrated. I work 7 days a week. I work from home in El Segundo primarily, but I head out to Borrego Springs once every week or so. On a daily basis, I am cultivating relationships with customers via email, phone, instagram etc. Inbound inquiries, outbound networking, whatever it takes.
When I started this job I was admittedly a bit nervous about being a "sales guy" for all the stereotypical reasons associated with the word "sales". But really, once I framed it as just sharing this place and this experience that I genuinely care about, I was all-in. If I was selling vacuums or steak knives... I would be terrible. Thankfully for me, that's not the case.
BB: Rams Hill has an offset calendar, compared to many other courses in the US—what do you do in the offseason? How do you think Rams Hill's schedule impacts how the business runs?
WM: In the offseason I am still grinding, trying to get as many folks on the upcoming season's calendar as possible. The offseason is cool though, because it does give me a bit more time to be creative with our marketing team on different initiatives, or just getting out and meeting new people (read: playing golf). The busy season is kind of where good ideas can go to die, so I try to take advantage of the "down" time in the summers.
BB: Do you view other stay-and-play resorts like Bandon or Pinehurst as competitors? Or is there a shared goal of marketing *golf*, and where guests choose to visit will just work itself out? Are you in communication with any of those other resorts about best-practices?
WM: I wouldn't use the word competitor. In my conversations with folks, it never really feels like I am selling Rams Hill based on any sort of comparison. We are who we are, and we are great.
I think one of the great things that we have going for us that some other remote destinations might not is our proximity to 24 million people. For now, at least, most of our golfers are driving in.
I do have some industry friends at places like Forest Dunes back in Michigan, and there have been occasions where I have called up to pick their brains. For example, I had a long talk with Elliott Oscar, the Head Professional at Forest Dunes about what makes their tournament, The Duel, so successful. We tried to replicate some of that with The Ramateur.
BB: What was the inspiration to get your podcast started? Where are you planning on taking it from here?
WM: GolfNeedsYou was born during quarantine. I just really wanted a creative outlet, and one that I could use to network with interesting people under the guise of a podcast. It's ironic that I named it "GolfNeedsYou" because I am hyper, hyper aware that the internet by no means needs another podcast from a 30-something dude in California. I know that. It's really just for fun and just for me. It's been a neat way to connect and to share Rams Hill a bit.
The goals were to learn from interesting people, build a skill, and maybe establish some semblance of authority or knowledge in the golf industry. Even if no one ever listens, I can accomplish all those goals. So that's cool by me. I'll try to do more and do better in the offseason.
BB: You have a real DIY, almost self-deprecating air as a podcast host and on Instagram, which plays really authentically—particularly in an era where people tend to edit the shit out of their content, slap a bunch of filters on, and market aggressively. Where does your approach to your content come from, and what's your take on the current Instagram golf culture?
WM: Thanks—I don't know how to edit anything so that's why I don't... I don't know. I'm very aware that there are more interesting people than me out there so for me to try and be cooler than I am feels weird and disingenuous, and like a good opportunity for me to get made fun of.
I've loved mixing it up on instagram. I've made a ton of really good actual friends via the platform. Thomas Reiten described Instagram to me as "the lobby where we all hang out and talk golf," and that really resonated. I love it. I think golf needs you to be yourself and it's cool that this weird golf social media world gives everybody an opportunity to do that.
BB: Desert golf or links golf?
WM: I mean... desert obviously 😎
BB: Favorite shot to hit?
WM: I love standing on the tee on a drivable par 4. Like the 17th at Rams Hill (<-- SALES). You feel like a hero if you knock it on and if ya don't, well, you still have a good chance at a green in regulation.
BB: How much time are you spending on Instagram every day?
WM: Too much? It truly has been a successful tool in my job though so I try to connect with people there daily.
BB: Favorite golf media to consume?
WM: The Outpost Series by Vice Golf / Colt Knedler! I love the shorter form video where you feel like you've somehow really gotten to know people over the course of a 5 minute span. Colt would be an example of the aforementioned cool people on the internet that I really look up to.