Success Stories

Where focus on a fun and positive culture has made an impact.

 
 

1. Helping HOAs Keep the Golf Community Dream Alive

 
 

The stakes are enormous for homeowners when the golf course at the heart of their community threatens to close. Property values and lifestyle dreams hang in the balance. The National Golf Foundation says the number of golf courses in the U.S. continues a gradual decline from its peak, as the marketplace rebalances following a building boom that lasted more than two decades. These golf courses were built to increase the property values of adjacent lots and homes.  In the event the course closes, these lots see their value drop precipitously.  But a golf course closure is anything but inevitable when residents are determined to stop it -- when they find the right partner. That’s what happened at Cape Royal, located near Cape Coral in Lee County, Florida.

The Fall and Rise of Cape Royal Golf Club

The Royal Tee Golf Club, the 27-hole public course built in the mid-1980s and the centerpiece of the Cape Royal residential community, had been slipping for several years. The homeowners could see it happening. The developer had finished building-out the community and appeared to lose interest in maintaining and operating the course. The course abruptly closed in August 2016, when the owner told the independently-controlled Cape Royal HOA he would stop maintaining it, cease paying dues, and that the property would be sold. Facing a predicted decline in their home values of between 20 and 40 percent (which would mean an overall decline of $30-$60 million in this development), the HOA activated a strategic plan that had been in the works for about a year to prevent the golf course from being developed by another owner. Within six months the HOA was able to:

  • Generate support from the owners of 483 Cape Royal homesites to purchase the golf course.
  • 91 percent voted to approve the $1.4 million purchase, financed with a loan being paid using a $295 annual Golf Course Acquisition Assessment on each homesite, roughly $24 per month.
  • The purchase closed in January 2017.
  • The golf property was eventually renamed Cape Royal Golf Club.
  • Secure a 10-year lease with Green Golf Partners (GGP) to lease and operate the course, and to do so without any HOA funds to subsidize the golf operation.

“GGP was very enthusiastic about the potential of Cape Royal Golf Club, very willing to work with us, and had the financial means to recover the course while sustaining minimum revenue,” said Don Weigand, HOA President. “They are a great group of people, incredibly honest, take a lot of care where the money is spent, and focus it in the right areas.”

Cape-Royal-Golf-Club_Logo

GGP: “On Their Side” with Deep Experience, Perseverance

Green Golf Partners is well aware of the common problems facing HOA’s and municipally operated golf courses throughout the country. The GGP team paid several visits to assess exactly what needed to be done to bring the course, which CEO Matt McIntee describes as “very fun and very playable”, back into condition. GGP renovated the greens, fairways, bunkers and tee boxes. They also performed infrastructure improvements to the building and irrigation system. Complexities are very common in restoration projects, but were handled thanks to GGP’s wealth of experience and deep understanding of golf course engineering and food and beverage operations.

McIntee also said GGP approaches projects in a manner that will help homeowners preserve their dream and, more specifically, their property values. He was impressed that the HOA was trying to maintain the grounds even before they had purchased the course. That approach, coupled with perseverance to see a difficult project through to conclusion, were key.

“Our approach is really simple. We are going to do whatever we can to help them reach their objectives. We are really on their side,” McIntee said. “For every club that closes, finally one fought back. They took matters into their own hands by partnering with a reliable and honorable operator.”

Blowing Away Expectations

The results that followed the January 2018 grand reopening have far exceeded expectations. The course is seeing 250-300 rounds of play each day; outstanding by any measure and far above previous numbers. The Caloosa Club restaurant and bar already have plans to expand thanks to higher than expected food and beverage sales. Cape Royal has become the gathering place for community activities such as pickle ball, bocce ball, card and activity clubs as well as host of many special resident events.

“The response to the golf part of the community has been overwhelming,” Weigand said. “What’s happening in the revitalized Caloosa Club is 100 percent more than anticipated. We’re busting at the seams. Golfers and non-golfers are enjoying the convenience of the Caloosa Club”

This model can be replicated in many other situations where communities face the possibility of a golf course closing. McIntee says that while each situation is different, GGP can offer entities that are affected viable scenarios showing what the golf course is worth, the costs to make necessary renovations, analysis of market conditions and risk assessment that allows informed decisions.

“At the end of the day, community based golf courses provide open space, a tranquil and safe setting with the added bonus of maintaining and in some instances increasing property values”, McIntee said.   “ GGP brings all of the disciplines necessary to operate, maintain and maximize the golf course experience.  Oh, and by the way, we also bring some fun with us”.

“GGP was very enthusiastic about the potential of Cape Royal Golf Club, very willing to work with us, and had the financial means to recover the course while sustaining minimum revenue,” said Don Weigand, HOA President. “They are a great group of people, incredibly honest, take a lot of care where the money is spent, and focus it in the right areas.”

- Don Weigand, HOW President

  Cape Royal Golf Club , Cape Coral, FL

Cape Royal Golf Club, Cape Coral, FL

 
 
 

2. Saddlebrook Official Grand Reopening Ribbon Cutting Set for May 24

 
 

Elected Officials, civic leaders, Green Golf Partners executives and staff, Friends of Saddlebrook, LLC and neighbors will celebrate the official grand reopening of Saddlebrook Golf Club on Thursday, May 24 at the course, clubhouse and new restaurant Rolyno’s Original Pizza.   Festivities will include a ribbon cutting, inaugural tee-off, and remarks  by honored guests.  During the day, the golf course will be open for play along with activities and for families and children.

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Saddlebrook was in considerable disrepair after being dormant since its foreclosure in late 2015. Homeowners in Saddlebrook and several surrounding neighborhoods came together to form Friends of Saddlebrook LLC,  to help save the public course and raised $250,000 last year to bring the course back to playing condition. Green Golf Partners, which bought the course in late July, has used  the funds to restore the entire course and clubhouse and now the course is ready to reopen for public play.         

Golf course season passes are on sale for adults starting at $749.  Junior Golfers season passes are on sale at $299 for 13 to 17 year old.

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3. Belleview Biltmore - Focus on the Fundamentals... and Fun!

 
 

Managing golf properties in a way that creates success for all stakeholders requires a unique combination of skills, experience and investment. In cases where government agencies own golf courses, they often find themselves in need of expertise to maximize the benefits of these valuable public assets. That’s where Green Golf Partners (GGP) steps in to turn things around.

A great example involves the City of Belleair, Florida after its purchase of the iconic but underperforming Belleview Biltmore Golf Club to prevent future development and loss of back taxes from the previous owner. The city suddenly found itself the owner of a business that needed help running it.

“Most municipalities cover a broad spectrum of services.  We are specific to operating and running golf courses,” said Zach Vervaecke, Regional Vice President and PGA Pro at Green Golf Partners. “We can come in and run their facility soup to nuts. Depending on revenue, profitability and proximity we can help those facilities turn around.”

Back to the Basics

After completing the $3.5 million purchase of the semi-private club, Belleair city leaders immediately began looking for a golf management company. GGP CEO and Partner Matt McIntee knew the golf course well from his industry experience in the area and developed a solid working relationship with city leaders. GGP was awarded a one-year contract to manage the club before entering into a lease arrangement. That structure allowed them to gain an accurate assessment of what was needed, both short-term and long-term.

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“The golf course had been ignored. The bunkers, tees, and driving range were in bad shape. The clubhouse was worn and dirty. For us, it was easy to see what needed to be done,” McIntee said. “The first thing we did was clean the place up to make sure it looked good. The second thing we did was put in solid management and good financial practices. Then we installed championship service.  Those things really helped.”

GGP created a long-term capital campaign when it leased the property that included remodeling locker rooms, bunker renovations and rebuilding tee boxes which played a big roll for improving the quality and playability of the golf course.

Create a Great Experience

McIntee said the GGP approach is to focus on fundamentals that create a great experience: Cleanliness, Service, Product and Fun. Nearly everything the GGP team tried --- from playing music nearly everywhere in public areas, to launching Sunday brunch, to hosting food/music festivals -- all seemed to work. A redesigned restaurant and new beach-themed golf shop all proved very popular.

“We really wanted to make golf fun again,” McIntee said. “The staff was coached very hard on Championship service and to make it the most fun club possible; with a mentality to make it the best place in Florida to play golf and party. The club took on that identity.”

GGP launched a locally-focused marketing program. An important part of that was getting Bellevue Biltmore Golf Club reconnected with the local community, particularly in re-establishing relationships with civic organizations and the business community that had withered in previous years. The outreach was successful in attracting events to the club, including an important monthly breakfast of all mayors from Pinellas County.

“It created a sense of civic pride. Once word started getting out, we began getting increased play on the course from the surrounding area,” McIntee said.

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“There was a lot of community involvement. The membership base there promoted the social events and the facility as well. It was great having it semi-private as opposed to just public or just private,” Vervaecke said. “That was a huge part of the success of Bellevue Biltmore. Plus, the proximity to the beach, Largo, Clearwater, Seminal, St. Petersburg and many other attractions helped. It’s just a good, centrally located property.”

The reinvigorated club delivered financial results. Rounds played increased to the point where there were not enough tee times available to facilitate demand during the winter season. Gross revenue increased 16 percent over the course of GGP’s four-year arrangement with Belleview Biltmore Golf Club.  The food and beverage performance stood out as well.

“We went from $300,000 in gross revenue from food and beverage to $500,000 in about two years,” Vervaecke said. “The restaurant had its own identity. A lot of that was due to having a new chef, new event person, and getting more specific about who to target for events. The product was a lot better.”

Lessons for Public Courses

In 2017, the City of Belleair voted to sell the golf property to a local family in a transaction that was reportedly structured to prevent any future development of the land. The city’s arrangement with GGP during the time it owned the property created an improved asset that was attractive for a new owner.

“They owned the asset. We protected and improved the asset while providing the city with revenue. And they didn’t have to be involved, at all, for the most part. I think it was a good relationship for them as well as us,” Vervaecke said. “We were pointed in the right direction before the sale of the golf course was finalized. We were hitting or exceeding revenue and budget numbers.”

“It was the best project we ever had,” McIntee said.

The approach GGP used with Belleview Biltmore Golf Club is applicable in a great many situations, including where golf properties are operated by government entities. It often boils down to focusing on fundamentals. But executing on the fundamentals requires experience, skill and creativity.

“We can make those properties better without the city having to worry about it,” Vervaecke said. “In many circumstances it’s a ‘win – win’ situation.”

  Belleview Biltmore Golf Club , Belleair, FL

Belleview Biltmore Golf Club, Belleair, FL

 
Belleview-Biltmore-Golf-Club-Green-Golf-Partners-GGP