Golf Course Management

JUN 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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The Highlands Strikers team has grown from 35 members in 2005 to 250 in 2013. In 2010, the club added a second croquet court to meet the demand. "A club without croquet is certainly missing an opportunity to serve its membership. It serves not only as a marketing tool, but also a tool to help retain members that no longer golf." — Dr. Bill McClanahan v V v Leo Feser Award candidate This article is eligible for the 2013 Leo Feser Award, presented annually since 1977 to the author of the best superintendent-written article published in GCM during the previous year. Superintendents receive a $300 stipend for articles. Feser Award winners receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Golf Industry Show, where they are recognized. They also have their names engraved on a plaque permanently displayed at GCSAA headquarters. 76 GCM June 2013 golf or don't golf something to be involved with," Crawford says. From the time it was built until 2005, Baillargeon focused on building the program. In 2006, Highlands CC formed its own croquet club, known as the Strikers. Members pay an annual fee for croquet, which covers the cost of the Wine and Wickets events, professional clinics and a banquet at the end of the year. Croquet has offered numerous benefts to the club. For example, HCC saw an increase in revenue due to members going to dine after Tuesday and Thursday evening croquet. It has increased exposure to the club since many members of surrounding clubs visit. And fnally, the HCC golf shop took advantage of croquet by becoming a dealer of mallets and specialty clothing. Just as golfers are required to wear appropriate attire, croquet players are required to dress in white, the traditional attire of croquet. Ken Mattis, head golf professional, became the exclusive dealer of Wood Mallets in western North Carolina. "I estimate gross sales of croquet merchandise to be right at $15,000 per year," says Mattis. Benefits add up Today, the Highlands Strikers are under the leadership of the Highlands CC Croquet Committee. Dr. Bill McClanahan chairs the six-member committee, which meets regularly during the season. "The entire croquet program at HCC offers the club an additional $60,000 in revenue," McClanahan says. "A club without croquet is certainly missing an opportunity to serve its membership. It serves not only as a marketing tool, but also a tool to help retain members that no longer golf." A good player himself, McClanahan noted the explosive success of "golf rules" croquet in Highlands. Although traditional American-style croquet once dominated the courts, golf rules croquet has taken precedence due to the ease of play and spectator excitement. Baillargeon adds that croquet has offered a new social dynamic to Highlands CC. A typical game will last anywhere from a half-hour to an hour compared to a fourhour game of golf. Also, she points out, the croquet players gather in groups of up to 70, not just foursomes. This gives our new members a chance to meet a lot of their fellow members at one time. It also gives non-golfers a chance to meet other non-golfers from our neighboring clubs. And if you don't know anyone yet, you can show up as a single and still play. After a short 20-minute lesson, anyone can be playing the game, which makes it conducive for family play of all skill levels, young and old. Since 2008, many other local clubs have noted the popularity of croquet at Highlands CC and added their own courts. Inter-club competition has become an important piece of the croquet program and moves forward with a lot of steam. It will be interesting to see what's next for Highlands CC following the unexpected success of croquet and the new revenue stream it has opened up. GCM Brian J. Stiehler, CGCS, came to Highlands (N.C.) Country Club as assistant superintendent in 2001 and has been the head superintendent there since 2004. He is a 2001 graduate of Penn State University and a 16-year member of GCSAA.

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