Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sorry for neglecting this blog, but this is new, which I feel is important:

It's something that has not happened in over 10-years in the golf course business.

I'm receiving requests from money lending sources asking me to find golf courses needing loans.

If you read this and are in that mode call me: 941-739-3990, or write: mike@golfmak.com.

Remember to review my lender's wish list at this page at my web site:  http://www.golfmak.com/financing%20golf%20courses%20in%202014.html

Mike

Monday, February 3, 2014

WHY EVERY GOLF COURSE SHOULD BE KNOCKING DOWN MY DOOR

MY CONSULTING AND ADVISORY SUCCESSES

"I'll do it my way." seems to be theme among golf course owners and managers. Why not use my experience and endless successes applying my proven management methods? Pick up the phone and call me for a free consultation: 941-739-3990, or write: mike@golfmak.com.

Look at samples of my successes:

I managed a 27-hole golf course in Sarasota, Florida, Oak Ford Golf Club, 27-holes, while it was in C-11 bankruptcy. Without  interference from the owner (I was hired by the Fed), I was able to apply my methods without interference. It about 18-months. In the beginning I had no (zero) money to work with, no credit line, no trade credit, no cash in the bank. I made it work.

Here's my results while running Oak Ford Golf Club:

  • Annual rounds from 48,000 to as high as 84,000
  • Revenue from $1,495,000 to $2,200,000
  • Earnings from $0 to $700,000

Here's a few other successes:

A 900-member private club, Orange Park Country Club, Jacksonville, Florida. I was hired to conduct the new owner's diligence, transition, then managed the business briefly. The new owner received an offer of more than $1 million more than he paid for club less than a year earlier. Sold!

I managed another Jacksonville resort golf course, The famous Ravines Golf Resort, Middleburg, Florida, for less than one year. My plan was successful in increasing rounds and revenue sufficient to draw attention from another investor who gladly paid my short term owner over $1 million profit. The subsequent owner reversed all my strategies, "I'll do it my wayyyyyy!"  and lasted less than two years. He walked away left the bank holding the bag. The course grew in. Here's a picture I took of the famous 9th hole looking back from the completely mildewed and ruined clubhouse:



I managed a 36-hole golf course, The Eagles, in Tampa, Florida, while in foreclosure proceedings from B of A for its $5.2 million mortgage. My methods increased rounds and revenue, but I went through the operation with a fine tooth comb and found waste and inefficiency in every nook and cranny of the place. By the time my methods were implemented we were at a pace to do almost $4 million in sales on 100,000 rounds and close to $1 million in net earnings. A buyer came along and offered $9.2 million for the place. Sold!

I was consultant and adviser to Belleview Biltmore Golf Club, Clearwater, Florida, for the previous owner in 2010 - 2012. The ownership I advised for paid $1 million (equivalent) for the Donald Ross designed golf course and sold it to the City of Belleair for $3.4 million in 2012.

I am currently advising a fine 18-hole golf course, Indigo Lakes Golf Club in Daytona Beach, Florida. Acquired in late May (2013), with an outstanding management team, and after getting the 'feel' of it's marketplace, we went to market in August. Results: August rounds are up 365% and revenues up almost 400% over August the previous year. No! Those are not type errors!

My management methods are proven time and time again. My strategy is aggressive, tenacious, experienced, and 100% successful. I don't care if the market is saturated. I'll get more than my share players on a golf course under my care. It's not magic. I use an almost endless attention to detail, employee behaviors, and timeless proven every-day business sense.

My fees? Negotiable depending on the scope of the work and time involved. Be assured, my fees are very reasonable.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I PREDICTED TODAY'S GOLF BUSINESS DILEMMA IN AN ARTICLE I WROTE YEARS AGO


I wrote this paragraph over 12-years ago - updated in 2009-10. In particular, it's the last paragraph on my article about the modern golf ball.  

"Unless cooler heads prevail in the construction of new golf courses, look for a decline in golf participation in the next few years - with or without Tiger. There are already a number of golf course in financial trouble in Canada and the USA (some estimates as high as one in four golf courses cannot pay their bills). They can't pay their bills, because play has dropped."
Michael A Kahn, 2009 - 2010


The full article was about the development of the golf ball, particularly the Surlyn cover and solid core developed in the late 60's and early 70's. I tested the Spalding range ball when it first came out.

The article was really what I felt was one of the reasons golf grew so dramatically in the 70's and 80's - the economics of the golf ball. Mainly, the price of golf balls was coming down while the durability of the modern golf ball is almost forever. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

WHY DO SO MANY GOLF COURSE OWNERS CHASE 10-CENT DOLLARS?

WHY DO GOLF COURSE OWNERS SPEND SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY CHASING 10-CENT DOLLARS?



Let me make it simple: When a person hands the clerk $60.00 to play a round of golf the only exchange in inventory is the pencil and score card. All the preparation is done - golf course maintenance, etc. 

If a person spends $10.00 in the grill room for a beer, burger and fries, the cost of that sale including ingredients, preparation and serving, plus support infrastructure will be at least $9.00. So here's my simple math:

Collect $60.00 for a green fee. Net = $60.00
Collect $10.00 for beer and burger. Net $1.00. But wait!

I need to sell 60 cheeseburgers to take in $60.00! So, what's my point?

Concentrate 90% of your total energy into putting golfers on the golf course. Chase those 100-cent dollars - then make the best of the concession 'opportunities' while the customer is on your property.

MY FORMULA: 80-15-5 
I believe the revenue formula for a daily fee or semi-private golf club should be 80% from fees, 15% from the grill room, and 5% from merchandise. The closer a golf course business is to my formula, the more likely it will be a successful business. 



What is your experience? Write me: mike@golfmak.com



HOA BATTLE WITH THE DYING GOLF COURSE


“In the RED corner, representing 90% of the community who are non-golfers - the HOA that wants to kill the golf course. In the BLUE corner, the 10% who are golfers who want to save the golf course.”



THERE IS ONE THING THE BATTLE BETWEEN GOLFERS AND NON-GOLFERS HAVE IN COMMON

I receive calls almost every week from a home owner’s association (HOA) board member about the dilemma facing the community’s failing golf course. In every case the classic confrontation between the golfers and non-golfers develops. Unfortunately the non-golfers outnumber the golfers as high as ten to one. In essence, if the golf course cannot pay its way and the non-golfer group prevails the golf course is doomed! But there will be consequences.

The battle often obscures the economics that goes right to the core of the individual household: Its Market Value! The Golfer feels if the golf course closes part of the beauty of the neighborhood is lost. The non-golfers, especially the home owners on the other side of the street, say they don't give a damn about golf, because they don’t play golf. They (non-golfers) call golf a waste of time, money, and real estate. “Why should I pay so clowns in pink shirts can chase a little white ball around a field and curse like truck drivers?”

ARGUMENT ON BOTH SIDES

The writer agrees, somewhat, with both sides in the debate. I do feel a person who is not a golfer should not be required to subsidize a person to play golf. After all, golf is probably one of the greatest wastes of time, money and real estate ever devised! I mean, golf was illegal in Russia till very recently. On the other hand, however, a golf course is permanent open space or green space. Managed, yes, but 99% of golf courses built since the early 80’ are on designated green space land and likely cannot be used for any other (commercial) purpose. So, the non-golfers just say, “Let it grown in.” Grow in? Have a look:




MY POINT…
THE ONE THING GOLFERS AND NON-GOLFERS HAVE IN COMMON – THE VALUE OF THEIR PROPERTIES.

First of all, while the debate goes on the one thing that hurts the neighborhood is uncertainty. Let’s make it simple: If you want to sell your house, what do you say to a potential buyer when you don’t know whether the golf course will survive or not? Wait! You be the buyer. Would you buy a home not knowing whether the golf course behind you will survive or not? Would you buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA in full battle over the plight of the number-one amenity? Which adds another question: 

What is your home worth if nobody will buy it? Ask the residents at Turkey Creek in Alachua, Florida. The golf course has been closed since May, 2010. Check this aricle: http://www.golfmak.com/residential%20golf%20course%20dilemma.html. Also, this article:  http://www.golfmak.com/HOA%20Golf%20Course%20Home%20Facts%20learned%20january%2017%202012.html

So, both sides have the value of their property at stakeespecially during the uncertainty period. In my experience I believe higher end golf course residences have far more to lose than more numerous lower priced residences. Sorry, but nobody seems to have useful data to back up my assumption. 

First of all, I believe the higher the price of homes in a golf course development the more they have to lose both percentage (%) wise, and in real dollars ($) if the golf course closes. A $1 million dollar home could drop 50% or more if its community golf course fails. However, I don’t believe a $200,000 home will lose more than 20% if the course closes. In fact, homes that do not have golf course exposure in a lower priced golf neighborhood may actually become more valuable than those backing up to a weed patch that was once a pretty green golf course fairway. I believe too, since there are many more lower priced golf course residential properties around a community golf course than upscale developments, individual homes would be less vulnerable, collectively, by the loss of the golf course. Based on my assumptions, I believe saving a golf course may be more important for home values in high-end neighborhoods than ‘average’ priced golf course neighborhoods. 

Then, I have further for arguments or a question for the high priced home owners who say they don't care about the golf course: If you don’t play golf and don’t care about the golf course, why would you buy a home in a golf course community? Secondly, if you can afford to own a home in an upscale golf course community you’d better be prepared to pay whatever it takes to maintain the full integrity of the neighborhood, whether you play golf or not. Unfortunately, golf course communities that do not have covenants that protect the golf course via HOA financial support have a tough road to haul. Attorneys will line up for that fight all day long! Nobody win but the attorneys - believe me!

I spoke with an HOA board member recently who outlined exactly the above dilemma. The development had only 230 upscale homes trying to support an ultra-high end golf course. Classic: The non-golfers say, “Let it grow in!”

If the upscale neighborhood golf course grows in (fails) I believe home values in that neighborhood could plummet 50% or more (my assumption only). I say that, because with a failed amenity (the golf course) the overall development becomes known as a failed neighborhood. Nobody wants to own a home in a failed neighborhood.  Ask yourself, “Would you?”

I know it can be expensive to keep up an upscale golf course with 12-foot green speed maintenance demands. But if homes in the neighborhood are $1 million plus value with a golf course in the back yard they need to come to grips with it and pay what is needed to keep the golf course alive. It’s an insurance policy on the value of your property. If you have to pay $5,000 a year to belong to the golf club to avoid a $500,000 drop in the value of your home, I would call that a pretty good investment. 

Hey! I say, "If you can afford a $1 million dollar home, you can afford to contribute to the integrity of your neighborhood – golf player or not."

By the way, I get calls from everywhere, like; Wyoming, Montana, North Carolina, New York, Virginia, Georgia, Wisconsin, Alabama, California, Florida… well, you get the point. Same dilemma every time! Some described meeting with screaming and hollering - even fist fights!

The key, in my opinion, is for all to agree on one thing: The value of each resident's property. Then the arguments can start making sense.

Remember, your First consultation is always free: mike@golfmak.com, of call me: 941-739-3990. 

Any comments?

Mike        

Monday, April 22, 2013

NEW GOLF COURSE OWNER? READ THIS

MISTAKES FIRST TIME GOLF COURSE OWNERS OFTEN MAKE


I deal with first-time golf course owners often. I refer them to an article on Golfmak.com: http://golfenomics.bizland.com/what-not-to-do.htm.

The article basically says, "Make changes slowly and carefully." I recommend sitting back and observing before making verbal or written commitments to customers, employees and services.

Instead, take your time and find out how the business and the asset behaves. Often, changes you had in mind will have more serious consequences than leaving them alone.  

Mike


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

GOLF CLUB BOARD OF DIRECTORS - A PUZZLE!


I guess I really need a psychologist to understand the mindset that drives a golf club board of director’s. In my experience, I can only anticipate that a golf club board of directors is almost certain to make a dubious decision – especially when being advised otherwise by experts in the industry.

Here are a few examples (in my experience):

1.       Near Carlton, Ontario the board chose a clubhouse design that looked more like a school than a comfy golf course clubhouse – even though one of the designs they were presented with was an excellent well thought plan by an expert. One (hilarious) result of the final product placed the men’s room such that every time the door swung open there was absolutely no privacy while men were going about their business. Another flaw was that the pro shop was a completely separate building, a cost control issue, which requires additional personnel to manage as a completely separate building – even during the slowest periods. It was also a security issue. The board knew all that, but chose to overlook it.

2.       A board of directors of a club near Hazelton, PA, watched their club’s membership fall from over 350 to fewer than 200. The club was desperate for an experienced general manager with the skill to manage a country club in the marketplace of 2012. With that recommendation clearly advised, the board hired a person with no clubhouse experience, no turf experience, no food service experience, and no knowledge of the game of golf. A decision that made absolutely no sense.

3.       A board of directors at a golf club in upper New York State decided they needed a large clubhouse with 400 men’s lockers (now 90% empty), a full service restaurant and a banquet hall. With an experienced building contractor in their midst, pleading with the board to adopt a sensible clubhouse plan, they went ahead with the ‘palace’ anyway. Five years later the club was bankrupt. The board members who pushed for the monster clubhouse abandoned the club. Soon after, the property was sold at an auction for approximately 40 cents on the dollar.

4.       A board of directors at a Sarasota-Bradenton golf club spent over $1/2 million to re-grass its 18 greens without bidding the job. Instead, the board hired a contractor who set the crew to work. A few greens were re-shaped as was one fairway. However, around the same time, I re-grassed 18 greens with average sizes twice the greens at the Bradenton course for $110,000 complete! We hit with Round Up on June 14. We corrected some drainage issues, tilled, gassed, and sprigged (in Champion Ultra Dwarf). They were ready to play by August 15 - the same summer! Players raved about them too!

5.       Here’s the most puzzling board behavior: It’s my own board of directors at the club at which I am a member! I live on the fifteenth fairway. Even though I advise golf courses all around the country, which this board knows, they chooses not to ask my advice – even when it is offered completely free. In fact, when I offer to sit in meetings as a ‘fly on the wall’ I am (currently) not even invited.

Those are the board of director puzzles. It seems their apparent intellect evaporates when they meet around a conference table. What comes over them?

In the golf industry everything was fine 30-years ago when golf was still in a seller’s market mode. Private clubs had waiting lists and lots of money to work with. However, about 1995 (yes that early) private clubs began losing their waiting lists, because aging members were resigning (or dying) at greater rate than the waiting list was being absorbed. In a short span boards were suddenly faced with deficit membership rosters and financial problems. They were completely baffled. So, the big fat treasury that could do no wrong was empty – and the clubhouse needs a new roof!

Beyond the tipping point, survival of the golf course required a high level of ‘golf course’ business skill. Boards were completely inept to manage shortfalls. They tried the same strategies: Cut back employee hours, cutback clubhouse service hours, bunkers groomed every ‘other’ day, and the greens mowers will have to make it another year. However, in all they attempt to do, they seem to avoid expert golf course business advice.

I think a board of directors, collectively, is like the man who refuses to ask for directions! He’d rather become hopelessly lost rather than admit he needs help. Does that analogy sound right?

What is your experience? My email: mike@golfmak.com

Mike