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consultants Sirius Golf Advisors,

Brauer explained to GIS attendees

that renovation work does appear to

deliver positive financial results.

The report covered financial results

for many of the 19 public golf

courses that have been renovated

in the Dallas-Fort Worth (D-FW)

area in Texas since 2000, and Brauer

also added details for a renovation

handled by his firm. Eight of the

projects could be considered ‘major’

renovations, where an average of

almost $5 million had been invested

to fully renovate and rebrand their

facilities. For these courses, annual

revenues were boosted from an

average of $939,000 per year before

renovation to $1,600,125 in the first

year of reopening, then $1,485,709

the following year.

Brauer’s presentation also summarised

financial data for four courses where

‘minor’ work had been done—an

average of $445,000 for projects such

as turf, green and tee improvements. At

these courses, average annual revenue

increased from $1,168,000 before

renovation to $1,517,500 in the first year

of reopening and $1,378,250 by the

second year.

Figures indicated that return on

investment (ROI) for both major

and minor renovations was highest

the first year after the courses

reopened, due to the initial ‘buzz’

surrounding the new developments.

The results dipped into a more

sustainable pattern in the second

year, but the ROI figures remained

overwhelmingly positive.

“The fact that the nine extensively

renovated courses and the four with

minor enhancements improved

average revenues by 63.7% and 23.3%

respectively after two years shows that

well planned renovations can certainly

boost the finances of golf courses,”

said Brauer. “While the survey only

covered the first two years after the

reopening, NGF confirmed that even

the courses that were renovated ten

years ago have generally maintained

their new revenue levels.”

So this evidence suggests that

renovating a municipal golf course

brings financial success. But choosing

the right time to renovate a course is

rarely easy, not least because of the

disruption caused while the work is

being done.

According to Brauer, owners should

look for tell-tale signs: clubs may be

regularly losing members, they may

have been forced to lower prices to

attract more players, or—nowadays—

they notice poor reviews and ratings

on consumer websites. “A noticeable

drop in the number of visitors

suggests that the course no longer

meets their expectations, whether this

is due to worn out greens, damaged

bunkers, or simply the fact that a

nearby course offers newer and more

exciting holes,” he explained. “Owners

should also consider renovating their

courses if their staff are spending

an increased amount of time fixing

problems, rather than carrying out

simple everyday maintenance tasks.”

To ensure revenue growth, owners

need to identify the enhancements

that will help to boost the appeal of

the course and create real value for

their customers, while lowering future

maintenance and operational costs.

“Owners should invest in the

facilities that customers will want to

pay for, rather than overspending

on superficial or less important

upgrades,” explained Brauer. “If

members have complained about

the condition of the greens and

the bunkers, these areas should be

prioritized during the renovation.

The NGF and Sirius Golf Advisors

report strongly suggests that facilities

that have undergone a total makeover

to improve their image also need

Returns on renovation can last into the long term. Indian Creek GC in Carrollton, Texas was renovated by Jeff Brauer in 2007,

and has maintained the resulting increase in revenues