The Sioux City, Iowa facility opened its five ponds to local fishermen at a time of year—mid-October—when very few rounds of golf are played in the morning hours due to near-freezing temperatures. The registration fee was split between the course and the top three finishers, based on weight of catch.
(As featured in C+RB’s 14th Annual Ideas Issue, June 2020.)
Green Valley Golf Club in Sioux City, Iowa has five large ponds, approximately 40 acres total, that are stocked with largemouth bass and panfish. But Scott Harmelink, PGA, Green Valley’s Director of Golf, said the 57-year-old public property had never allowed fishing, because of worries about the liability.
After seeing how golf rounds were falling off significantly in mid-October, however, especially in the morning hours, Harmelink decided to try holding a Bass Fishing Tournament on the last Saturday of October 2019.
“I kept the golf course closed until 11:15 a.m.,” he says. “Generally, the morning temperatures that time of year are near freezing, so there was no loss of revenue.”
Harmelink charged $50 per fisherman, with the course keeping 50 percent of the money and the remaining money being paid out to the top three fishermen with the highest weight total for their catches—50 percent for first, 30 percent for second and 20 percent for third.
“We had a ‘shotgun’ start at 9 a.m.,” Harmelink says. “Each fisherman was given a golf cart and could fish anywhere on the golf course from 9 to 11 a.m., using their own gear with artificial lures only.”
The fishermen kept the fish caught on a stringer or a fish basket and at 11 a.m., Harmelink blew the horn and the contestants waited for him to come to them and weigh the catch. All fish were then released. The winner of the event had 20.1 pounds of largemouth bass, the only qualifying species.
“A great time was had by all, and it got me thinking,” Harmelink says. “I’ve decided to include fishing with any Corporate Night Range Event in the future.”
In 2019, Harmelink turned a basic driving range into the place to be in Sioux City. With some imagination and in-house labor, Green Valley’s lighted range now hosts entertaining evenings with music, prizes and a boost in F&B. The changes have attracted both Millennials and corporate events, and added an additional revenue stream to the club.
“I believe [including fishing] will result in even more interest in this program,” he says. “I have something that no one else in the area has, and I truly believe Night Range events in 2020 and beyond will be a major new source of revenue.”
The Goal: Add some activity to Green Valley GC’s golf course in the slow morning hours of October.
The Plan: Host a bass-fishing tournament on the property’s well-stocked ponds.
The Payoff: The club kept 50 percent of the money raised and the remaining funds from entry fees were paid out to the top three fishermen. The success led to fishing now being included in the club’s corporate event offerings.