By Rob Sabo, Northern Nevada Business Weekly
Several golf courses in northern Nevada have struggled with red ink the past few years, the most notable being D’Andrea, which eventually closed.
Two keys to economic viability for the region’s courses, says Greg Raleigh, membership director at Somersett Golf and Country Club, is to develop more golfers locally and to heavily promote the benefits and social aspects of golf to increase membership and play.
“There is just so much to do in this region, that if we don’t develop more golfers there are other activities,” Raleigh says. “The challenges aren’t other golf courses, there is just so many things to do with the lake and skiing and everything else that we have to keep building golfers.”
Golf courses in northern Nevada have become proactive to increasing their membership bases. Somersett this year introduced a low-cost preview membership that has a clearly defined end-date rather than standard memberships, which are paid until cancelled. The private course in the hills west of Reno sold 50 of the new memberships in January and exceeded its annual sales enrollment goals in the first quarter, Raleigh says.
In order to generate more cash flow for the course, Somersett re-allocated a portion of homeowners’ association fees to the operation of the course, Raleigh says.
Another step the course has enacted to help increase play is a “Learn to Golf” program with PGA professional Stuart Smith, who works with experienced and beginning golfers to build enthusiasm for the game.
“Stuart is committed to teaching, playing and generating golfers,” Raleigh says. “It is really a lifestyle play. Golf has a way of making itself a lifestyle, and that is what we are trying to communicate.”
Lisa Anderson, general manager of Montréux Golf and Country Club, says the course will unveil a new promotional campaign designed to grow its membership base, which has decreased just 16 percent from its peak of 417 in 2006. Montréux has 350 golf members, 50 sports members and 37 clubhouse members. Amenities change with the different membership levels. The latter two membership levels have seen small growth in recent years, Anderson says.