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December 2014

Raising the Stakes

Raising The StakesIn order to raise serious capital in one fell swoop, course owners have been known to get creative. There are stories of operators offering limited ownership shares or lifetime memberships to their loyal customers. On the member-owned side of the business, clubs assess themselves for capital improvements more regularly than they would prefer to admit.

At Brandermill Country Club in Midlothian, Virginia, it was a capital funding idea-fest that resulted in club owner Michael Hatch swiftly amassing three-fourths of the $300,000 he sorely needed to completely refurbish the club’s crumbling pool amenity. In preparation for the 2013 operating year, Hatch called an all-member meeting that 120 Brandermillers attended. He brought with him a pledge of $75,000 to cover 25 percent of the cost budget, then deputized a committee of members to help hammer out a plan for the rest of it.

Knowing they had overall buy-in on this dream project of a new pool complex, Hatch and his committee cooked up offer after offer. As a member, you could purchase 10 guest green fees valid anytime for $500 (including cart) and get another 10 free—a $1,000 value that proved to be a hot seller. You could buy a brick with your family’s, children’s or company’s name on it for a $300 fee, or pony up $500 and get three bricks. You could purchase a corporate package that for a mere $1,000 gave you a personalized brick plus a 20-player golf outing. (Note: That’s a revved-up way of bringing in prospective new members, anyway.) Hatch also offered 100 pool-only memberships in advance of its construction for members to peddle to friends and neighbors. These were priced at $995 and included incentives for any member who sold one.

To cap off the campaign, boost the final take and meanwhile bolster the one-for-all spirit, Hatch planned a “Cocktails For a Cause” tournament, with an array of offerings to pique interest. “At our auction, you could bid on a fall lawn cleanup and aeration personally overseen by our course superintendent,” Hatch says. “Or you could bid to have our executive chef come to your house and prepare dinner for you and five of your friends—ingredients and wine supplied by the club.”

From that one festive event, Brandermill’s take was $35,000. By the date originally projected, the entire $225,000 was raised, allowing work on the pool project (which is now complete) to begin right away.

There are plenty of golf facilities with deferred capital-improvement work to be done, and as the Brandermill story shows, there are many money-raising initiatives that a loyal membership, well motivated, can help execute.

—D.G.

 

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