The city council voted to spend up to $70,000 on new software and a study exploring the possibility of bringing TopGolf to the facility, which faces an operating deficit that could exceed $422,000 this year. The council noted that the property’s two 18-hole golf courses are making money, but the recently renovated clubhouse and dining venues are eating the profits.
In an effort to boost revenues at Indian Wells (Calif.) Golf Resort, the City Council voted to spend up to $70,000 in new software and a study exploring the possibility of bringing TopGolf to the facility, the Palm Springs, Calif., Desert Sun reported.
The city faces an operating deficit for its signature amenity that could exceed $422,000 this year. That could rise to $5 million over the next five years if more isn’t done to draw people to the facility. In January, the City Council asked manager Troon Golf to develop a strategic plan for making the resort self-sufficient in the next 18 to 24 months, the Sun reported.
The company submitted a five-year plan to the City Council in a special meeting Wednesday at the resort. While the council approved Troon’s requests for new software and a TopGolf feasibility study, officials were unhappy with the strategic plan overall, saying it didn’t adequately address ways for making the resort self-sufficient, the Sun reported.
“I’m disappointed with the study,” said Councilman Ted Mertens, noting he read through it at least three times.
Troon came to the council with three requests:
- Invest $30,000 upfront and $10,000 per year for Stay and Play software that allows people to book tee times at the resort at the same time they book their room.
- Authorize spending no more than $30,000 on a feasibility study to see if the resort would be a good location for a TopGolf driving range competition played with microchipped golf balls.
- Approve added amenities for the Pavilions event facility, including a changing room for weddings and other events or “green room” where entertainers can relax while waiting to perform.
“Fewer and fewer hotel guests are playing golf. We need to reverse this trend,” said Bill O’Brien, vice president of operations for Troon Golf.
Over the past five years, the resort has seen nearly 6,500 fewer rounds of golf played by guests of the neighboring Hyatt and Renaissance hotels, O’Brien said, costing about $500,000 in green fee revenues, the Sun reported.
The Stay and Play software would make it easier for guests to book tee times and could bring another $200,000 in green fees to the resort over the next 10 years, O’Brien said.
Councilman Doug Hanson said the two 18-hole golf courses are making money, posting a profit of up to about $1.8 million per year. It is the recently renovated 503,000-sq. ft. clubhouse, featuring the IW Café, Vue Grille and Bar, event rooms and more, that is eating the profits, the Sun reported.
Poor service and weak menus with no signature items are largely to blame, officials said. Mertens said he attended an event there over the weekend and “all I heard were complaints.”
Randall also suggested a coupon giving golfers $10 off their meal, with the stipulation it be used the same day they play golf. Adding some live entertainment would also bring people to the Vue, she said.
“We can solve these problems, but we need to think way outside the box. We need to challenge ourselves in what we’re doing,” Councilman Ty Peabody said. He suggested looking at other participatory games, including pickleball courts and bocce ball, the Sun reported.
“We need to look at the cost to build the facilities and the potential revenue” to see if they would be feasible, Peabody said.
Residents and council members were excited about the possibility of bringing TopGolf, which can be played at night, to the resort. The game is growing in popularity with people likening it to bowling for golfers. Players challenge each other, seeing who can get their golf balls closest to dartboard type targets 240 yards away. It can be played by children and adults with zero to professional level golfing skills, the Sun reported.
The game also drives food and beverage sales, O’Brien said.
“It will be a huge success,” said resident Donna Griffith, who has played TopGolf. “It’s fantastic,” she said, and not available anywhere else in the valley. “Research that and don’t let it slip through your hands,” she said.
While the council has been adamant that resident amenities and fees should remain at the current rate, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Balocco suggested a platinum card for residents that would give them more access to prime tee times during season. Residents have said they would be willing to pay more than the current $35 green fee, the Sun reported.
Troon will come back to the City Council in June or July with a revised strategic plan that looks at Peabody’s suggestion for more participatory sports and improvements to the clubhouse restaurants and bars that will draw people and keep residents coming back. Troon was also asked to come back with some pricing estimates for the Pavilions amenities before it commits any funds, the Sun reported.