The State of Mom and Pop Golf?

Earlier this year I corresponded with the newly appointed GM of a Southern Ontario club, a homegrown affair with few aspirations other than to be an adequate, fairly priced golf experience. The GM was hopeful that she could turn the club around and asked me to come out and play it if I was in the area. I didn’t get a chance, but I sent a note last week inquiring about how the club’s year had gone. The GM’s comments (see below) are likely not indicative of every so-called “mom and pop” shop, but they are insightful nonetheless. Note, I’ve removed anything that would identify the now former GM:

Q: I never did get out to see your course. How did the year go?

*LOL* Hi, Robert – Well, it certainly could have gone better! The owner had financial problems the entire summer (repeat of previous years). He’d started the summer with the promise of financial backers, but it never came to pass, so it was a case of marketing by hook or by crook, and unfortunately, many bounced cheques.
I left before the end of the season, having offered to quit a number of times because he couldn’t afford me and he couldn’t afford to do anything effective marketing-wise. He cut back staff during the busiest part of the year. I had started a bunch of activities to increase business but it’s the kind of thing that you have to really invest in and be committed to – he wasn’t, and he just didn’t understand business management at all. There was no way for me to get past his poor reputation, and that was a fight all summer long. I have heard since that the place is for sale, or was sold, since I left. A month or so ago, I looked and the website was down – it still is.
I put together a really good team, so there were areas of success, but things like *no air conditioning (owner didn’t want to spend the money), *no regular cleaning/maintenance (owner didn’t want to spend the money), *we couldn’t replace broken cash registers (no money) or upgrade the website (no money) and *the same old menu (couldn’t afford to buy the ingredients), *can’t join professional organizations (no money), really was a detriment to the success of the course. Worst financial management I ever saw, but then we started the year $5k in the hole.
******, the course super, was just great – I hope he is able to take pride in what he did there, he really did a great job with very little funds (and even used some of his own). He and I were very committed to improving things, but it was not something we had total control of, unfortunately.
It was nice “meeting you,” though!
All the best,

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This sounds like where I was employed this summer, Mystic!! The only difference was we didn’t have a female manager!!

  • southern ontario’s a tough market without any money. Too many high end properties don’t have realistic bottom lines which makes it hard on the Mom and Pop operations. I’m sure Burlington Springs had another great year financially, Bunky provides good low priced golf amidst the bent grass competition.

  • Wouldn’t surprise me if it was Grand Niagara. Owner does a good job of fronting like he has money, but over time it was figured out he didn’t have much.

  • Wrong. Grand Niagara’s site is still up……also their green fees are $125 in the summmer. Not a mom and pop track

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