With a five- to seven-year waiting list for its established event, The Club at Rolling Hills’ second member-guest event has expanded participation to include younger members and those newer to the club.
Sometimes a club property needs to shake things up, even with its most successful and tried-and-true events. And that’s literally what The Club at Rolling Hills in Golden, Colo., did when it created a new twist, called “The Rattler,” for its traditional member-guest golf tournament.
The Rattler was launched two years ago as the brainchild of two relatively new club members, Dominic Giarratano and Mike Christensen, who wanted to meet other young members and their families. They realized that “The Stampede,” the property’s established member-guest event, had a healthy waiting list of five to seven years to secure a slot and could not accommodate any more participants.
“The Rattler wasn’t meant to compete with The Stampede,” says Giarratano. “Rather, it takes pressure off of it and increases revenue by adding another amenity.” Additionally, The Rattler (so named because Rolling Hills sits on a mesa where the occasional rattlesnake makes an appearance) provided a chance to offer a member-guest that was more inclusive, by creating a co-ed version open to both male and female members age 45 or younger (guests can be any age), and to members of any age with five or less years of tenure.
“In the last five to 10 years, the private club business has been dramatically changed by a youth movement,” says General Manager Michael Hestera, who joined Rolling Hills about 18 months ago. “[And the newer members] have different ideas and different needs. They want events that cater to their families and children, but they want to be part of a community.”
For its first year, the proposal was just for a second tournament for younger men, which drew 36 two-man teams. For The Rattler’s second year, the eligibility requirements were changed to also include women and new members, bringing 10 more teams into the field.
“The Board of Directors never once said no,’” says Giarratano. “The established members understand the bigger picture and the need to be relevant for younger generations.”
In 2020, The Rattler, scheduled for June, will expand to the maximum of 52 two-person teams. The $1,100-per-team price tag includes golf, food and beverage, social activities, gifts, and prizes. The event concludes with a couples’ party and awards ceremony on the pool deck.
The Rattler, which now has a short waiting list of its own, borrows many elements from The Stampede, which is held in August and has 64 two-man teams. Both are four-day events with similar tournament structures. But The Rattler also has its own special attractions, including a long-drive contest and its own trophy (see photo, below left) and logo, which is used on shirts, coolers, koozies, hats and keychains.
And while Rolling Hills closes during The Stampede, the golf course stays open half the day during The Rattler. “We don’t close down any amenity or dining venue or close the course down,” says Giarratano. “Members can still use the club during the week, and we mix in with them to achieve success across the board.”
The members promote The Rattler and communicate updates by text message, social media, e-mail, and word of mouth. A website was created for the tournament and registration takes place online, with participants also able to list the people they would like to play with. Last year, players got their gifts through an online store.
“The Rattler has been a good marketing tool for our membership director, to let people know they have access to a member-guest,” notes Director of Golf Jeff Seltz, who has been at the club for 32 years.
“One of our ongoing initiatives is always going to be member retention and attraction. This does both,” adds Hestera. “The landscape is changing. I would encourage people to embrace that and be willing to try new things.”
Adds Giarratano: “As far as I know, we are the only club in Colorado that has an event like [The Rattler]. It’s been a great success and now helps the club have some of its best weekends it’s ever had.”