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Improving the Urban Golf Experience

BACKGROUND

The City of Chicago owns an urban, municipal golf course and driving range portfolio conveniently located within the city limits – some with magnificent views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline, others with rich, cultural history. The conditions of the seven golf courses and high-traffic ranges had steadily deteriorated over several years. Guests noticed a sharp decline in service and amenities. The city did what many municipalities and county boards have done in tighter economic times – issued an RFP seeking help to manage the portfolio.

IMPLEMENTATION

Indigo Golf Partners had already established a reputation as a high-quality golf course manager with more than a dozen successful operations in the Chicagoland market. This leader among management firms was the obvious answer for CPD. Indigo Golf Partners' aggressive proposal to operate the golf courses for 15 years won the highly competitive bid. Plenty of work laid ahead for our team:

  • Develop long-term agronomic plan to improve turf conditions on fairways, tees and greens
  • Training in superior guest service using Indigo Golf Partners' exclusive “ACE™ The Guest Experience” program
  • Design comprehensive retail purchasing plan to reduce COGS and move more merchandise
  • Overhaul food-and-beverage operations
  • Build new or restructure current operating systems
  • Create new player development programs and events
  • Rebrand the courses as the Chicago Park District
  • Start aggressive marketing campaign to attract new players and renew relationships with golfers who had gone elsewhere

The top Indigo Golf Partners management team oversaw this highly visible project in a major city. The entire golf industry watched the progress unfold:

  • Highly respected agronomists dramatically improved course conditions, sometimes using cost-effective solutions which produced maximum results.
  • Our skilled F&B specialists re-configured snack bars, introduced new value-priced menus and revitalized on-course beverage service.
  • Golfers now found well-trained, helpful employees welcoming them back to the re-branded “Chicago Park District Golf.”

RESULTS

The immediate improvement of financial results in the first year of Indigo Golf Partners management was staggering. The portfolio realized a 30% increase in rounds played and revenue over prior years. Perhaps just as important, the team increased rounds and revenue even more in ensuing seasons.

City administrators made the right decision choosing Indigo Golf Partners:

“Far exceeded the city’s expectations.”

Golfers noticed: “Jackson Park is the best public course in the city.”

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About the Author
With 30 years’ experience in golf, Mike oversees Indigo Golf Partners growth plans and specific lease, acquisition, consulting and third-party management opportunities. He enjoys an invaluable talent of dissecting ways golf courses, country clubs and resorts can create significant new revenue and save expenses without compromise to quality. Previously, Mike managed the company’s vast southeast portfolio. A PGA member, he is a graduate of Mississippi State University, an avid cyclist and diehard college football fan.