As its new general manager, Michael Snyder looks to implement a new “bare bones budget” initiative to bring in more golfers and green to the Sunland Golf & Country Club.
Some of the initiatives include Discover Golf Day on Saturday, Oct. 6, new public tee times on Fridays and “Twilight Golf” after 2 p.m. weekdays.
The club was facing an estimated $250,000 shortfall as revealed this summer in club newsletters and at a special meeting on Aug. 15 with the SunLand Owners Association, a separate nonprofit from the non-profit club.
Since taking on the new role on Sept. 1 (while continuing as the 18-hole course’s superintendent after nearly four years), Snyder said he and board members continue to take a close look at all departments for ways to improve.
One of the club’s biggest deficits, he said, was found in the club’s food and beverage business. Board members agreed to suspended catering operations, and close its cafe Tuesdays and Thursdays. Snyder said they’ve honored their catering commitments through the end of September and remain in talks with numerous caterers to outsource food for the club’s various activities and events in its ballroom.
Personnel-wise, Snyder said 11 part-time and seasonal employees were let go across the club’s departments, leaving 16 employees in place through the club’s fiscal year on March 31.
Because of the changes, Snyder said, “the initial shortfall is going to be much less.”
He attributes the effort to club board president Bruce Mullikin for being proactive.
“Membership has been very positive about stepping up, especially our board,” Snyder said.
Board members have volunteered to fill vacant spots in the club, he said.
Mullikin wrote to homeowners via email that the board’s new business plan started eight months earlier than scheduled, “to protect our only real shared asset, the beauty of a community surrounding an equally beautiful golf course.”
Following changes to the club’s food services, Mullikin wrote in the club’s newsletter, the board will focus on signing up new golfing and social members for the rest of 2018.
More play, memberships
“We’re going to roll out initiatives at every level to foster a broader sense of community involvement,” Snyder said.
A big part of that includes more availability to the public.
Starting last week, Sunland Golf & Country Club opens to the public at noon on Fridays along with all-day play on Saturdays and Sundays.
The public can also sign up for Twilight Golf packages where players can play a round after 2 p.m. seven days a week at $1 per hole for nine or 18 holes.
Snyder said the package encourages beginner golfers and/or new golfers to the course to visit.
Associate level, non-equity memberships golf memberships have been simplified as well from age-based groups to flat fees, Snyder said.
Now, an individual Associate Membership costs $200 a month for unlimited golf while a family costs $275 a month.
Snyder said new members can pay them all at once or monthly so long as they commit for the year.
He meets with equity members — stake owners in the club and its amenities — on Thursday, Sept. 27, to discuss membership details.
“We want to still make it of value to equity members,” Snyder said.
Social memberships also can upgrade to trial golfing membership at $150 for six rounds of golf, or $1,200 for unlimited golf good through March 31, 2019, and can be renewed at current yearly rates on April 1, 2019.
Previously, Sunland membership fees ranged from about $1,200-$6,000 a year, and the club dropped a $10,000 initiation fee several years ago.
At the August special meeting, some club members said opening to the public hasn’t been a significant financial positive. Some residents said the public don’t care for the course the same way members do.
“Just playing golf is tough on a golf course,” Snyder said. “We’ll have to mitigate maintenance and with not having a lot of members, it doessn’t get a lot of wear and tear.”
Snyder said he and board members hope the initiatives generate more money before bad weather hits for the winter.
“We have to get more exposure to the golf course in order to grow membership,” he said.
“That’s the mantra if we’re going to succeed.”
Another way Snyder seeks new players is through Discover Golf Day on Oct. 6, a special event designed to introduce Sunland to beginner and seasoned golfers.
Green fees will be waived for the first 100 golfers, he said.
They’ll also offer free golf clinics for 15 people each from 10-11 a.m. and 1-2p.m. that day.
Participants for the clinic must RSVP by calling 360-683-6800. Snyder recommends golfers check for tee times that day, too.
Despite some discussions at the August special meeting and later between the club’s and homeowners’ leaders, there are no plans to move forward with a landscaping contract between the two entities.
No votes regarding the club were made at the homeowners’ annual meeting on Sept. 19, either.
In previous newsletters and at the special meeting, Mullikin said the board was considering a three-year lease option for the course.
Snyder said a sub-committee group from the club’s board continues to investigate the option.
For more information about Sunland Golf & Country Club, call 360-683-6800 or visit www.sunlandgolf.com.