The publication highlighted the private club owner/operator’s strategy of changing the way people think about golf as well as the way they play it, comparing ClubCorp to the Apple of high-end country and golf clubs. “If there’s a knock on the club industry, it’s that a lot of clubs are old-fashioned in how they look and how they run the business,” CEO Eric Affeldt said.
The Dallas Business Journal featured ClubCorp, the Dallas-based owner/operator of private clubs of all kinds, in a recent article on how the organization is working to change the way people think about golf.
“If there’s a knock on the club industry, it’s that a lot of clubs are old-fashioned in terms of how they look and in terms of how they run the business,” said Eric Affeldt, CEO of ClubCorp.
The article compared ClubCorp to “the Apple of high-end country and golf clubs,” which, after it went public in September, reduced its debt by more than $145 million, and brought in liquidity to expand its global network and re-work the club industry. ClubCorp owns/operates 40 clubs in Texas and 152 in the United States, bringing in $545 million in revenue in 2013, the Journal reported.
“Everyone is trying to find ways to bring growth back into the business,” said Casey Alexander, director of equity research for Gilford Securities, an investment firm that tracks the golf industry. “If they don’t find a way to appeal to Gen Y’s requirement for instant gratification, the industry’s North American market will be half its size in 25 years.”
Through ClubCorp’s IPO, it has a line of credit near $140 million to purchase and update clubs—but, the Journal notes, bringing clubs into the 21st century isn’t easy, as the company has invested nearly $400 million over seven years to renovate outdated clubs. The trick is to appeal to existing members while snagging new ones who wouldn’t have considered joining a club before, such as young executives, women and families, the Journal reported.
“If you don’t keep up with current consumer tastes, you’re going to go right out of business,” Affeldt said. “We’re trying to address a larger segment of the population and provide more of what they want and less of what they don’t.”
As a result, ClubCorp has teamed up with Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar and BMW, and is offering sponsored parties for the Super Bowl, Oscars, wine and craft beer tastings, trivia nights, tailgate buffets during sporting events, and more, the Journal reported.
ClubCorp’s latest acquisition is of Prestonwood Country Club in Dallas. Affeldt has preliminary plans to spend more than $5 million renovating the club, the Journal reported.