Muskoka Bay: "We're Not Struggling" and Cobble Beach Regrasses

After receiving a couple of notes asking about the rumours [photopress:mb4_1.jpg,full,alignright]surrounding Gravenhurst’s Muskoka Bay GC (see review here) and a possible receivership, I went right to the source to find out what’s going on. There’s no truth to the speculation, club officials said, though they admitted that the slow development of a permanent clubhouse had fueled the rumours. Head pro Kevin Hamill answered my query:

There have been some very entertaining rumours floating around this season about Muskoka Bay. From being bankrupt, to being taken over by Taboo and of course the ever present Clublink Corporation, all of these rumours are certainly untrue. Unfortunately, I have been living with various forms of gossip for the better part of my career in this business and it is regrettable that people thrive on the thought of failure by others without taking the time to investigate the validity of what they hear through the grapevine. Muskoka Bay was in all likelihood the busiest course in the Muskoka region this summer, a fact which may cause our competitors and industry colleagues to look for an opportunity to rain on our parade by fueling the fire with information from a so called reputable source. I find it funny that such reputable sources can never be truly identified by name and are usually nowhere to be found when push comes to shove.

In the midst of such rumours, I could continue to take comfort in the fact that our parking lot was almost always full and our customers continued to patronize our establishment because of the outstanding layout, exceptional conditions and first class treatment. Many of our repeat customers played the course in excess of 10 rounds this summer and commented that they wont go back to other properties because they love it here so much. If our golf course and parking lot was as empty as some of our competitors, there would certainly be cause for concern.

So that, as they say, is apparently that.

[photopress:cobblebeach6_1.jpg,full,alignleft]In other talk, Owen Sound’s well regarded Cobble Beach Golf Club (see review here) shut early this year and will be closed, likely through June next year, as the club regrasses its fairways. It turns out rye grass was accidentally mixed in with the mix of velvet bent and fescue the club used for its fairways. Since rye grows more quickly, that meant the fairways were populated by some awful looking “weeds” which actually just turned out to be rye grass. Apparently there were few solutions (though a lawsuit is in progress, I’m told), so the club is regrassing and will be closed next year until the grow in is complete. This would appear to be a massive setback considering the buzz around the facility and its ambitious plans.

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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.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great to hear about the success at the Muskoka Bay golf course. The reality is that the financial success of the place is in the selling of memberships and housing. If you can get the stats on that RT, I think you’d get a better idea of how they’re doing financially.

    Clublink would actually be a natural buyer for this given the company’s focus on trying to make a better return on non-golf development – but they would only buy this at a discount and I’m sure at this point no one would be willing to sell at a discount.

    Muskoka Bay certainly has some challenges that most/all the other Muskoka courses do not have. They are primarily daily fee (although I know they are selling memberships) with a short season and no resort directly on the grounds feeding the golf course.

    They have a visually beautiful course which lends itself perfectly to resort play. Most people I’ve talked to love the course. I hope it all works out for them.

  • Nothing against Clublink but I prefer to pay a reasonable premium for daily fee courses on a pay as you play basis. Clublink ownership will just remove the opportunity for many to play Muskoka Bay. Why doesn’t Clublink just develop its’ own properties?

  • I don’t doubt Mr. Hamill and his arguments. The problem is a full tee sheet isn’t what makes a project like this viable. The “rumours” that are circulating in golf business circles centre around financing and the relatively slow sales of homes/lots on the property.

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