If you are a regular reader of this blog you may have seen these predictions I made in February when I said that 2015 was perfectly positioned to be a vintage year.
My opinion was based on several ingredients required by golf course owners/operators. Among them were low interest rates, a strengthening economy, oil prices, prolonged expense side management and the weather.
Some were more accurate than others, but all in all, it has been a vintage year.
So now what?
As we slowly wind down for the winter there isn’t much you can pull out of the hat’ for 2015 if you haven’t already done so because we only have a limited time remaining and historically, the fringe players have put their clubs into hibernation by now. This means we have a restricted market available.
Given scientific information, I agree with the prediction that the El Nino will continue to affect our weather well into the fall, throughout the winter and into next spring. This means we will see plenty of warm weather during that time frame.
As always, the weather will be unpredictable on a day-to-day basis, but the overall picture is for above normal temperatures. This means that on any given day we could wake up to sunshine and playable conditions. I see this as an opportunity to generate some extra profits.
Of course, there is a defined policy at every course for putting the course to bed for the winter with fertilizer applied, irrigation lines blown dry, benches/signage stored, flower beds turned and equipment prepared for upgrades/repairs.
I totally agree that these are necessary and take first priority. You sure don’t want to find yourself with an incomplete close only to have six inches of snow bury everything.
What I am saying is if you can keep a few cars available, why not keep the pro shop open for a few hours daily? You might sell some inventory, greens fees, power cars and/or food and beverage, all for the cost of one employee.
We know the less avid players are gone but not the hard core guys who will play in anything. Not only that, but since the available market has shrunk, so has the number of daylight hours been reduced.
So why not organize some events for them?
Something like a shotgun at 10 a.m. to catch the best window of weather, a two-person scramble with lunch and prizes. Perhaps, you can try a few events per week.
If the weather forces you to cancel, so what? Maybe some of the players will still come for lunch. When you plan an organized event, invariably you attract a few more entries than you would with nothing going on.
I must admit, I’d be a little less enthusiastic at a private club where there is little chance of extra revenue because dues are paid for the year, but you should be mindful of creating interest and sound public relations.
Before entering into a schedule like this it would be extremely advisable to discuss the whole program with your superintendent/F&B manager. They might have legitimate reasons why not to proceed.
On the other hand, both might have ideas that help make the concept work better. In particular, the superintendent might help by placing the tee markers in specific areas to minimize damage or use temporary greens.
The point is this – don’t lock the door just yet! There could be benefits to staying open as long as you can, even if you close for a few days until the snow melts and then open up again and go back into business.
At this point, everything is paid for and every single dollar goes directly to the bottom line. As I said last February think green.