Changes at Bond Head, Georgian Bay Club; Ridge at Manitou

Given the difficulties facing the Canadian golf business, it isn’t altogether surprising to see several clubs make big changes in staffing already, even though the season has barely finished.
Two of the clubs impacted are new designs by Jason Straka of Hurdzan/Fry. Not that any of this is Straka’s fault, of course, just coincidence. Georgian Bay Club, a club which many felt was doing well in drawing members and developing a business, let go of its marketing director and its head pro, Adam Cherry. Cherry was the former assistant under Neil Verwey at St. George’s. No reason has been announced for the change.
Similarly, the Club at Bond Head, which was a successful design but a less than stellar business, fired its general manager in the late summer and then recently let go of its head pro, Ian Chan, formerly of Glen Abbey Golf Club. Nigel Hollidge, the former GM at Taboo Golf Club near Gravenhurst, has taken over at the course, bringing some of his staff from Taboo with him. No word on what Taboo is doing to fill the vacancy.
Hollidge has his work cut out for himself at Bond Head, which did approximately 10,000 fewer rounds than predicted. A second course on the property will open in late summer, 2006.
Finally, Shawn Robertson, the head professional at the Ridge at Manitou, did not have his contract renewed, meaning the club has gone through two head pros in as many years. The club, which is located near Parry Sound, Ont., has been heralded as a design success by the likes of Ontario Golf Magazine, but has failed to attract many members.

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Jeff Lancaster

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Quite interesting to see how these new courses that open up and spend millions of dollars to make the “biggest and best” golf course and clubhouse, yet can’t attract enough golfers. How many GM’s or Pro’s are they going to have to go through to meet their budget?

    Why not just try and meet the demands of what golfers actually want…value, and don’t spend that much on the course, which means lower green fee rates and no problems attracting golfers. This will not only save the golf industry, but allow good people to keep their jobs!!!

  • Given that a lot of the decisions and plannings were done years back when golf was on the up and up, I think many golf courses’ overestimate the boom of golf.

    The news of the last couple of years were mostly about YoY decline in rounds played.

    I really do not see the GTA being able to support that many high-end golf courses, let along those in the cottage country.

  • Always looking for some magic way to get that profit�. If they offer a value for their fees maybe then they will get the numbers they need. It always seem strange when they do the Golf Pro musical chairs to get their numbers up.

  • I think the changes facing these courses, and many others like them, are just symptomatic of the plight of the overall industry. If you build a $60 green fee course within an hour’s drive from Toronto, you’ll be successful. But at $150 it isn’t as clear cut. That’s what the likes of Bond Head are facing. At $95, it would have been a home run, but they would have had to put up a lesser clubhouse, though I doubt that would have had any real impact on the golfers who came to play….

  • One can only hope, for Bond Head’s sake, that the staff coming down from Taboo will have left those truly weird crypto-Fascist black uniforms up in Gravenhurst. I couldn’t decide if I needed to call the Fashion Police, or if the Taboo staff actually WERE this fearsome organization.

    You could put an eye out with those shoulder pads, I swear.

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