Fresh start for Northwood Golf Course
John Rader, Green Golf Partners executive, proposes budget, rates, branding, and hiring decisions
BY NAOMI KOWLES
For the Star Journal
Green Golf Partners introduced a number of proposed changes for Northwood Golf Course at Monday’s Rhinelander Golf Course Commission meeting. They brought a budget, new rates for residents, seniors, and early birds; fresh branding, and an update on hiring decisions.
“It’s going to be a real positive year for us,” said John Rader, Executive Vice President of Operations for Green Golf Partners. We’re going to offer some new things, have some new events. I think this is a fresh start; we’re going to be shaking things up a little bit.”
“We’re starting over; new logo, new look, new operation.”
Rader introduced a new set of rates for noon Sunday through Thursday, which included early bird (6 a.m. – 8 a.m.), non-resident, resident, and senior rates. Residents of Oneida County will have access to lower green fees than tourists, a decision Rader noted was in response to surveys and conversations that indicated many locals thought the course was too expensive.
Rader also said they planned to offer online specials from time to time to fill up unused tee times.
Both regular and junior membership fees will remain the same, Rader said. He noted that the new rates could change the number of memberships purchased. He explained that in previous years, membership rounds averaged from under $9 to $12 a round (2015-2017).
According to the proposal, kids 16 and under will play for free on Sundays after 3 p.m. when accompanied by a paid adult.
Green Golf Partners is also in the process of updating its website, Rader said, a project which he indicated should be finished in a couple weeks. A new logo for Northwood Golf Course has also been designed, and the restaurant will be rebranded as Whipsaw Bar and Grill. In reference to the rebranding, Rader explained, “We wanted something that really connected up here; that really meant Rhinelander.”
“We’re going to have a wide range of services. We’re going to have a typical good menu…We want to have lunches, we want to have all the stuff you would expect there, in the evenings too.” Rader noted that they wanted to keep the menu inexpensive, with a normal selection of lunch and dinner foods.
“We’re not going to be a high-priced menu; that’s not what we’re trying to do.”
Green Golf Partners is still in the process of hiring a food and beverage manager, with two applicants currently under review.
Rader said they wanted to have special events such as beer, wine, brandy, and whisky tastings. “We don’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves to just golfers.”
Kyle Christian from Oneida Golf and Country Club in Green Bay has been hired as the course golf professional and will be starting on March 15, Rader noted.
“He has family ties up in northern Wisconsin, has a family farm up in Park Falls; he’s an ‘up north’ young guy. [He] came highly recommended with a lot of good feedback as far as customer service and knowledge. Coming from that private club background, you’re going to see a noticeable difference in service…there’s no doubt he’s going to bring that.”
Green Golf Partners projects a total gross revenue of $695,703, with budgeted increases of 19 percent in golf operations, 9 percent in golf cart, 5 percent in golf merchandise, and 22 percent in food and beverage (F & B). Rader noted that he believes the F & B revenue estimate is “still somewhat conservative,” but that it represents a 3-4 percent increase over 2014, the highest year in the restaurant’s revenue.
Payroll amounts remained roughly the same, according to Rader, with a total of $383,689 budgeted for payroll and benefits. F & B payroll is the one exception to last year’s budget, with an $87,678 designation that would not have been present in 2017 due to the restaurant’s closure. However, both Rader and interim city administrator Keith Kost noted that the total payroll budget had increased by only about $24,000 from the previous year, with golf operations and golf maintenance showing a decrease due to factors such as the absence of insurance benefits. The F & B payroll expenses are offset by a projected $165,050 in F & B revenue.
Net income, including interest expense and depreciation, is budgeted for a loss of $144,897.
“As a whole, we’ll be within our budget,” Kost said. “The bottom line of this budget is more positive, significantly, then last year’s actuals.”
Green Golf Partners will continue to provide monthly updates to the city regarding the proposed changes and managing decisions. Kost said he thought the city would be “very surprised, very happy.”