City approves management contract for golf course
Green Golf Partners executive discusses management goals and priorities
BY NAOMI KOWLES
For the Star Journal
The Rhinelander City Council approved the management agreement with Green Golf Partners for the Northwood Golf Course on Monday in a special council meeting.
Interim City Administrator Keith Kost identified the highlights of the contract, noting that Green Golf Partners had agreed to lower their flat fee from $38,250 to $31,000 for the first year of operation, and from $54,000 to $39,996 for the second year.
In addition to the flat fee, Green Golf Partners would receive a 10 percent incentive payment based on the increase in gross revenue over the prior year, according to the contract. In 2018, the calculation of gross revenue would be based on 2017 gross revenue and would not include food and beverage (F & B) revenue generated in 2018. 2019 calculations for revenue increase from 2018 will include all membership dues, F & B, and other golf course related revenue from 2018.
Kost reminded the council that the city would remain in control of all revenue and expenses generated by the golf course.
“We hired a management company, not a leasing company,” Kost said. “The city still owns all the assets; the city has all the income, and the city has all of the expenses. So everything will come back to the city.”
The council approved the agreement in a unanimous vote after a discussion regarding the minutiae of the contract.
John Rader, Executive Vice President of Operations for Green Golf Partners, weighed in on Tuesday with details regarding their overall management goals. He indicated that their two big priorities were the care of the golf course and service.
“Service, attention to detail, making sure that whether you’re from Rhinelander, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, wherever you are, you feel really good coming here no matter what you’re doing,” Rader said. “…our overall goal, and our motto with Green Golf, is, we need to bring value.”
Value, he said, was a combination of having the right service, the right price, and the right quality products. “Those three things make a value so that someone can walk away saying, ‘I had a great experience.’”
Rader noted that some of Green Golf’s specific objectives were to “bring life” to the food and beverage operation, and to focus on expanding junior golf programs.
“We personally really love junior golf, and it’s going to be a big thing for us,” Rader explained. “Expanding the program, PGA junior leagues, more interaction and free golf for kids on Sunday afternoons after a certain time when parents come in with them. We have to do more to expand that with the juniors.”
“There’s a lot of good things that are happening. We want to add on and keep expanding that,” he added.
“I would love to see the golf course get up to the level or the amount of play that we had pre-9/11, which would be spectacular. I don’t know if we can expect that or not, but it’s a good goal,” Joe Anderson said. Green Golf Partners has hired Anderson, the long-time Northwood Golf Course superintendent, to continue as the course superintendent.
2001 was a peak year for the golf course, Anderson said. The 2001 financial statements for the Northwoods Golf Course show that it generated a total revenue of $641,987 and a net income of $57,992. The course has accumulated a deficit of over $1 million since it has been in operation.
“I view golf as a luxury, and when times get tight, people don’t have the disposable income, and they kind of have to cut back on their luxuries,” Anderson explained. “That’s just kind of the way it is. I think our play dropped 25 to 30 percent in the years immediately following 9/11.”
Both Anderson and Rader indicated that the golf industry had declined nationwide after 9/11 and again after the Great Recession 2008. Rader said that he is seeing a national trend currently, in which golf is experiencing a slow upswing.
Rader said he has been working in the golf industry since 1994. His office is located in New Berlin, but he said he expected to spend a significant amount of time at the Northwood Golf Course.
Other services that Green Golf Partners will provide, according to the contract, include monthly profit and loss statements, monthly inventories of the golf shop, F & B inventory, and fixed assets; a marketing plan, and an annual budget. In conjunction with the marketing plan, the contract also states they will be responsible for the conducting of golf tournaments, the implementation of teaching programs (as space permits), and the promotion of junior golfers, league play, and special events.