(Photo of Jeff Hastings by James Carbone, Burbank Leader)
Touchstone Golf, which took over management of the Burbank, Calif. municipal course in December, reported that rounds were up by almost 1,000 over what had been budgeted through March, and that the 2019-20 fiscal year is on track to produce a quarter million-dollar profit.
If there is one sound that Jeff Hastings loves hearing at the DeBell Golf Club in Burbank, Calif., the Burbank Leader reported, it’s the sound of lawn mowers cutting grass.
For Hastings, the new General Manager of the municipal golf course, hearing the fairways and greens being cut on a consistent basis tells him that progress—and improvements that city officials have been waiting to see—are being made, the Leader reported.
“It means that grass is growing, and we’re on it,” Hastings said.
On May 7, the Leader reported, representatives from Touchstone Golf, the new operator of DeBell, gave the Burbank City Council an update on how the golf course and restaurant have been performing since the firm took over in December (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/burbank-calif-selects-touchstone-golf-to-operate-debell-gc/).
Even with significant rainfall at the beginning of the year, Touchstone President Mark Luthman said, the course’s first fourth months of operation under the new company exceeded what they anticipated for the first quarter, the Leader reported
The golf facility had gross revenues of $502,062—$46,772 more than what Touchstone had budgeted from Dec. 12 through March. Additionally, there were 10,869 rounds of golf played, 976 more than expected, Luthman said.
While the golf course was expected to lose about $95,000 during the first quarter due to start-up costs, Luthman said the facility is budgeted to end the 2019-20 fiscal year with a profit of roughly $251,000, the Leader reported.
Touchstone is achieving that goal, Hastings said, through effective marketing toward a variety of groups that use, or that Touchstone hopes will use, the DeBell facilities, the Leader reported.
The rounds of golf will continue to increase as the weather clears up and more people hear about the changes being made at the golf course, Hastings said.
Additionally, the creation of several events—such as a Mother’s Day Brunch, a Cinco de Mayo tournament, live music events and food tastings—have drawn both golfers and non-golfers to DeBell and the recently renamed Hilltop Restaurant and Bar, the Leader reported.
After just four months of operation, Hastings said he and his staff have made several changes to DeBell’s par-71 golf course, including making the first cut of the green larger, slowly widening the fairways, repairing portions of the cart path, tackling repairs to the irrigation system, mowing more often, and cleaning up the driving range.
Offering breakfast options, like a popular tater-tot breakfast burrito, have appeased early-bird golfers, he added.
“It’s doing things like that, those simple things, [that] make a big difference,” Hastings told the Leader.
Before taking over management at DeBell, Hastings was General Manager at the Dos Lagos Golf Course in Corona, Calif., another golf course in Touchstone’s portfolio, the Leader reported.
DeBell had similar issues as that course, Hasting said, including a low number of rounds of golf played and lack of marketing. But after almost 10 years at Dos Lagos, he told the Leader, he managed to turn things around, and he hopes to do the same for DeBell.
Helping Hasting to accomplish that goal, the Leader reported, is Joaquin Herbozo, DeBell’s Head Golf Professional, who has been an employee of the club for nearly 17 years.
While he commended the Scozzola family, the previous operators of the club, for the decades of work they put into DeBell, Herbozo told the Leader he sees signs that Touchstone is taking the property to its next chapter.
“It’s still early to say, and I’ve been here during good months and bad months, but hopefully this upward trend continues,” Herbozo said.