We recently had the chance to sit down with golf course owner Ed Schultz and PGA Head Professionals Ty Zimmerman and Kevin Triefenbach to talk about a new public golf course “group” they’re about to launch- Golf Around STL. Ed is the owner of The Falls Golf Club in O’Fallon, Mo., and Ty and Kevin are pros at The Missouri Bluffs Golf Club and Tapawingo National Golf Club, respectively.
TMGP: First, a two-part question: Give our readers an overview of the public golf course business in the St. Louis area, and what prompted the desire to put this group together?
GolfAroundSTL.com (GSTL): The golf business in St. Louis, and most of the country, for that matter, has been a tough go the last several years. The recession hit golf pretty hard, as many know. For example, the National Golf Foundation reported that last year there were fewer than 20 new public or private course openings and over 150 course closings! That’s where we are as an industry—we’ve overbuilt in almost every market, including St. Louis, and the economic downturn certainly has exposed that reality. The number of rounds is down and equipment and apparel sales have followed suit. We know that most public facilities in this area have not been profitable for a number of years. By far our most important revenue source is daily green/cart fees—whether from normal tee time bookings or outings and tournaments. So, as an owner (or a Head Professional) you can sit idly by and hope things will improve or you can try to make some changes, try some new initiatives, try to fix what’s broken.
The single biggest reason for putting this group together is to take back control of our greens fee/cart fee pricing structure. We all use third-party providers for many of the services we need—point-of-sale systems and tee time booking are a couple of the most prominent. But we’ve increasingly lost control over the pricing of our most important revenue source– the price one pays to play the course. And anyone, in any business, can tell you that you simply can’t run a business properly (or profitably) if you don’t control your pricing structure.