In this excerpt from C+RB’s special report on management companies, learn how Indigo Golf Partners—formerly Billy Casper Golf—helped its 170 properties through a #GolfForEveryone mentality. Acquired by Troon in January 2021, Indigo Golf Partners thrived while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. “With considerable input from our leaders in the field, we created a comprehensive, tactical ‘safety-first’ strategy that involved several steps,” says the firm’s President, Alex Elmore.
While providing resources and expertise so their portfolios’ properties could navigate the pandemic, multi-club operators also made moves to prepare for the “new normal” and lent muscle to the country’s larger recovery effort. This special report provides updates on how the year unfolded for several of the leading U.S.-based management companies, focusing on how they marshalled their collective resources to not only support the needs of their properties, but also the larger recovery efforts for the club industry, the regions they operate in, and the country as a whole. The report can be found in its entirety in the latest Club + Resort Business digital issue (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/digital-issue/).
Here is the portion of the report dedicated to Indigo Golf Partners:
The management firm known as Billy Casper Golf since its founding in 1989 announced at the start of November 2020 that it was rebranding as Indigo Golf Partners—a name, it said, that reflected the firm’s emphasis on “blue-sky thinking that inspires creative and practical ideas which know no limits.”
The start of 2021 then brought the announcement that Indigo Golf Partners had been acquired by Troon.
Headquartered in Reston, Va., Indigo Golf subscribes to a #GolfForEveryone mentality, and owns and operates 170 courses, country clubs and resorts with more than 3,000 holes of golf in 29 states. When announcing its rebranding in November, the company said it had added 21 properties to its portfolio, and renewed another 15 partnerships, in the previous 12 months.
The vast majority of Indigo Golf courses set records for rounds and revenue in 2020, the company says, and even more encouraging is the substantial amount of business already pre-booked for 2021.
The firm’s President, Alex Elmore, cites several key reasons for why the company thrived while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With considerable input from our leaders in the field, we created a comprehensive, tactical ‘safety-first’ strategy that involved several steps,” Elmore says. “High-touch areas at each interaction along golfers’ journeys were prioritized, and appropriate precautions were identified. Technology was implemented to service golfers at the property, as well as prepaying online. We created outdoor spaces to satisfy social-distancing requirements, and attracted new and latent golfers via marketing programs designed with retention in mind.
“What excites Indigo Golf is the growing accessibility of golf and its alignment with a movement away from an economy of ‘things’ toward an economy of ‘experiences,’” Elmore adds. “Despite perceptions of a sport predominantly for the affluent, 80% of golfers play at daily-fee courses where the average greens fee in America is $38. That’s well within reach for the 24 million ’traditional’ players nationwide, and it’s a low barrier to entry for new golfers. Indigo Golf touches one of eight public golfers, so we are doing our part.”
COVID-19 affected all areas of operation at St. Johns Golf & Country Club, an Indigo property in St. Augustine, Fla. The semi-private club with 250 members and 55,000 annual rounds played had outings, events and banquets postponed or cancelled through the initial stages of the pandemic. Local and state regulations limited occupancy, and new health and safety protocols were adopted to sustain operations. When one of its busiest months of the year came to a relative halt in the early stages of the pandemic, St. Johns reevaluated its day-to-day business model and goals for 2020. But after April, as routines began to settle, golf was declared a safe activity and business demand skyrocketed, leading St. Johns to its best-ever year in rounds and revenue.
On a day-to-day basis, St. Johns found creative solutions for member services while still making sure to meet the new health and safety standards that had been imposed and to promote social distancing. When group size allowed, the club encouraged exterior dining on its front lawn, actively promoted single-cart riders, engaged with its online booking system and required that all tee times be prepaid, to eliminate congregating in the pro shop.
A clubhouse renovation and expansion faced delays as contractors faced COVID-19 exposures, product issues and supply-chain issues. But creative workarounds, while still prioritizing safety, kept the project close to its projected schedule.