Co-Owner, North Star Golf Club
As a former general internist, Melinda Evans has plenty of experience getting to know people on a personal level. But now, with her husband Roger, she uses her bedside manners to oversee North Star Golf Club, the course recognized as the northernmost layout in the United States. Golf Business recently sat down with Evans to learn a bit more about owning and operating a golf facility along The Last Frontier.
GB: Since getting into the business, what aspects of running a course have you found to be most challenging, and why?
ME: Besides what the environment presents, staffing is the most challenging. We have some returning employees. Thankfully, many [members] of the grounds crew have worked for us for a few years. Hiring and training summer staff for the clubhouse is a big job. In June, July and early August, we have tee times from 7 a.m., until the last nine-hole tee time at 10 p.m. As America’s northernmost USGA course, people love to be golfing or finishing around midnight, and weekday nights after 6 p.m., are some of our busiest times.
GB: What do you consider some of your biggest accomplishments in course ownership?
ME: Having a beautiful, interesting and friendly place for locals and visitors to recreate. Re-opening the buildings and course every spring is like childbirth—you forget the pain from one to the next. We completely shut down the clubhouse, drain the pipes, turn off the heat, and take home everything that can’t survive temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, the place is reborn every spring, which is a huge undertaking. I dream about a place where all you have to do is lock and unlock the doors.
GB: The success of any business—particularly one that asks customers to part with discretionary dollars—is determined, to a large degree, by how well it connects with customers. How do you go about doing that at North Star?
ME: We try to hire for personality and work ethic more than golf knowledge and experience. North Star is a beginner and family friendly place that all ages and abilities can enjoy. We’re more about what works for our customers than tradition. Our dress code is “clothes.” We will quietly let employees or customers know when they have crossed the line. Shoes are required in the clubhouse, and only my husband likes to have at least one barefoot midnight golf excursion a season. Think “Northern Exposure” and “Tin Cup” with midnight sun.