The impact of management company insight and expertise was apparent from the start at this Tennessee club.
Talk is cheap and in plentiful supply in the club business. Listening to that talk, and responding properly to it, can pay huge and immediate dividends.
When Atlanta-based Sequoia Golf—which owns and operates 27 golf clubs, leases or manages 25 golf courses and also runs a course design and renovation business—acquired Temple Hills Golf & Country Club in Franklin, Tenn. in April 2009, the first thing the company did was assess the property and host a meeting, to find out more specifically what members were looking to get from their club.
The need to repair and rebuild the 30-year-old greens on Temple Hills’ 27 holes quickly rose to the top of the to-do list, and that task was tackled almost immediately.
“They came in and very quickly made a positive impact,” says Morgan Gonzales, Temple Hills’ General Manager. And since that opening impression, the benefits of being under the Sequoia Golf umbrella have continued to resonate rapidly, and well, with members and staff.
Prior to joining Temple Hills, Gonzales had only worked at independent properties—but he has since become a believer in the management format.
Temple Hills Golf & Country Club
Location: Franklin, Tenn.
Before Sequoia stepped in, he notes, Temple Hills members would often get stuck on the phone, trying to make weekend tee times. According to Gonzales, there were instances where they’d wait as long as 45 minutes for assistance. Considering that the club sees more than 200 rounds over Saturday and Sunday, something needed to be done. And fast.
Sequoia instituted a new e-mail-based system that is used at another one of its properties, and Temple Hills saw an increase of 10 percent in weekend tee times as a result. “They had already been through a lot of the humps and bumps associated with the new system,” Gonzales notes.
Help Where Needed
While Sequoia allows Gonzales the freedom to make the vast majority of day-to-day decisions, the company provides accounting, marketing and even communications assistance as he needs it. For his regular newsletter to the membership, Gonzales now provides an outline to Sequoia, and receives a polished product in return.
And for any issue that Superintendent Larry Goosetree might have on the course, assistance is readily available as well. “We have an agronomic expert we can tap at the home office if we need to,” Gonzales says. “They’re just a phone call or an e-mail away. It’s very much a ‘let’s figure this out and move forward’ kind of management situation.”
Additional member benefits that have been introduced, such as playing privileges at other courses under the company umbrella, are now proving to provide a recruiting advantage for prospective members. Gonzales’ sales team now makes it a point to ask prospects where they often travel on business or for leisure. A nearby sister property can go a long way in solidifying the deal for a new member, as well as helping to retain those who are already paying dues.
“We’re really aggressive in letting members know they can play other Sequoia courses,” Gonzales says. “It’s very inexpensive to play, usually just cart fees. There’s a lot of value in that.”
Gonzales adds that when he has an idea of his own, Sequoia is always open to listening.
“They’re flexible,” Gonzales said. “I’ve never heard ‘you can’t do it because we don’t do it.’ As a company, they trust what I’m doing.”
And with a string of successes now evident at Temple Hills, why wouldn’t they?
“We’ve improved, from both a financial standpoint and membership standpoint,” Gonzales reports.