I was intrigued by a note I received as a “Muskoka Bay Enthusiast,” from Peter Freed, the president of the Muskoka Bay development in Gravenhurst. By all accounts, Muskoka Bay has been exceptionally well received. It has won a boatload of awards, and is generally held up as one of the best courses in Northern Ontario.
However, I found Freed’s note perplexing. He said the clubs fees will “start to reflect our gradual phasing towards a private model.” With that the club is raising greens fees to $215, or 28% from the previously listed green fee of $175. But it doesn’t stop there. Nope. The club’s message also says they now have 90 members, and “are likely to approach 150” by the end of 2009.
One thought — who are these guys kidding? Have they not noticed the news lately? My paper this morning had a headline screaming that real estate prices in Toronto have dropped 10% in the last six months, yet here is a high-end club announcing they are raising their fees by $50.
I can only assume their goal is to clear their fairways so that the 90 members they have won’t run into a member of the hoi poli taking a divot on one of the slopped fairways on their Muskoka gem. If there’s another reason, I’m hoping someone can point it out to me.
In case Freed and management at Muskoka Bay haven’t noticed, we’re in a recession. He says in his note that memberships are still selling for $50,000 for a single and $70,000 for a family, but are set to “increase substantially.” I’ve spoken to several private clubs recently and no one is talking about having their memberships increase, let alone raising the initiation fees. What they are discussing is offering “trial” memberships for up to three years now (as is the case at Brantford.)
I find this all the more stunning since Muskoka Bay is a real estate development, and one that I would think will struggle to sell units in coming years. I would think the facility would want to supplement its income — money that won’t likely be coming from members — by inviting the public and offsetting the club’s costs. Instead they’ve designed a plan that will likely turn more people away.
The world has changed since the summer — but apparently word hasn’t hit the outer reaches of Gravenhurst.
- My review of Muskoka Bay from 2006 can be found here.