Reducing transfers to the golf course tops the list of long-term business goals for Devil's Thumb. Over the next five years, city manager Justin Clifton would like to bring transfers down to the $300,000 to $350,000 range, which would include annual debt service payments of $150,000.
During a work session focusing solely on golf course operations, Clifton outlined several other goals:
• Increase area capture rate to 25 percent of market share (currently it's at 19 percent)
• Increase tournament and outing play by 15 percent
• Continue zip code tracking to better utilize marketing efforts
• Continue golf in schools at the junior high level (an effort that started in 2010 with the help of the Delta and Cedaredge men's clubs)
• Replace sand in the greenside bunkers.
A longer-term goal is developing the land around the golf course, a direction that was being explored by Bray & Co. when the housing market collapsed.
Sources of potential revenue include revamped membership rates, hole sponsors and fundraising tournaments. Golf course manager Rob Sanders says when non-profit organizations use the course for fundraisers, it's a win-win for the community because those funds usually go to local projects. "In 2013, we estimate we raised about $50,000 that stayed in our community," he said. "We want to increase that number — it helps us and it helps them."
In recent years, transfers from the city's utility funds have topped $500,000. When asked if the long-term goals are obtainable, Sanders said some factors are out of his control, such as mine layoffs, but he believes they are realistic.
There are some promising signs in the golf industry nationwide. After peaking at 40 million in 2007, the number of golfers nationwide dropped to 26 million in 2011. That number is now creeping back up. Golf outings are growing in popularity, so there's an opportunity to attract groups willing to drive several hundred miles to stay in the area and play two or three different courses. And finally, Devil's Thumb has been named to the top 10 list of public golf courses in Colorado by Golf Week. This is the fourth straight year Devil's Thumb has earned recognition. Last year, the golf course placed seventh in Golf Week's top 10; this year's ranking has not yet been revealed.
Much time was spent discussing how best to market the golf course, from signage to social media. Recognition by Golf Week is a "huge marketing tool," Sanders said, but there's uncertainty about the best way to get the word out. Councilmember Mary Cooper suggested a professional marketing firm.
Councilmember Robert Jurca inquired about the condition of the road to the golf course, saying it falls under the heading of "first impressions." Clifton said the long-term solution is likely to be very costly, so the best the city can do is patch the holes in the road.
The use of technology, regulatory factors, seasonal factors, area competition, and food and beverage were also addressed in the lengthy outline prepared by Clifton and Sanders.
"This is by no means complete," Clifton said. "We fully expect there will be new ideas that come from council, from the advisory board, from the citizens. If we're missing key components, please let us know."blog comments powered by Disqus