April 18, 2012
Hickory Ridge Golf Club Reopens Under New Ownership and Management
AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS — The new owners of the Hickory Ridge Golf Club announced that they have officially taken ownership of the facility on Wednesday, April 18th and the closing of the sale of the golf course has taken place. The new golf course owners are part of appliedgolf Course Management headquartered in Millstone Township, New Jersey.
The golf course is reopened today and the course is ready for play. appliedgolf has great plans for Hickory Ridge including improved course conditions and more value oriented rates
“We are really excited to be the new owners here at Hickory Ridge” said Dave Wasenda, President of appliedgolf.” Our first step is to provide a great experience to our loyal golfers and second is to attract new customers.” Wasenda also stated “We are looking forward to taking the course to the next level and provide various new options of all types for all golfers.”
Plans are already in place to improve areas of the golf course, clubhouse and other facilities. A new website www.hickoryridgegc.com has already been launched and a new Hickory Ridge Golf Club logo has been put in effect. Reopening promotions and specials will be published on the Club’s website over the next week.
About Hickory Ridge Golf Club
Hickory Ridge has long been considered a hidden gem and was voted best in the Valley many times by the Valley Advocate readers and Hickory Ridge was also selected as one of the top 100 courses in New England in 2004 by the New England golf course journal. Hickory Ridge Golf Club offers something for everyone. The club has memberships and is also open to the public. There are full practice facilities as well as complete food services including golf outing opportunities. The Professional staff offers a retail golf shop as well as top teaching programs throughout the season. The entire staff is eager to create an enjoyable experience every time you visit. www.hickoryridgegc.com
appliedgolf’s vision is to create the highest quality golf and club experience while maintaining personal involvement with the members, guests and employees while ensuring their long-term satisfaction. Our mission is to provide the perfect blend of customization, innovation, technology, and old fashioned hard work every day to bring our members and guests the most rewarding golf and club experience possible—one that will be remembered for all seasons, and for all the right reasons. appliedgolf was founded in 2006, is headquartered in Millstone Township, New Jersey and currently operates nine golf facilities in five different states. www.appliedgolf.com
Director of Communications & Marketing
Northern Exposure By Steve Eubanks
Multi-course management companies have been around for decades, so long in fact that most owners look at them with a jaundiced eye and ask, “What can you do that the other guys can’t?”
For New Jersey-based Applied Golf, the answer is simple: They don’t send minions to manage your problems. You get the owners of the company, who swarm your operation and make changes and improvements personally.
“The key to it is being on the ground,” says principal partner Dave Wasenda, an industry veteran who has been in the golf business for more than two decades. “It’s one thing to be the manager of a manager who is on the property. But the horsepower of our principals is the game-changing element. When we say we’re coming in, we’re not sending a regional manager to your property—you’re getting us. We’ll come in, be at your facility, and use our experience to change things on the ground.”
That specialized approach limits Applied’s geographic reach as well as its ability to take on too many new projects. The company currently manages 12 clubs, primarily in New Jersey and surrounding areas with a few outliers. But Wasenda views those limitations as assets. He’d rather make his existing customers happy than take on too many projects and leave someone unsatisfied.
“The owners are ecstatic that they have a business they can count on,” he says. “We have some huge benchmark successes—golf courses that were losing $400,000 a year a few years ago that are now cash-flowing $300,000 a year. That’s a big thing for this industry during this time.”
How did they do it? Wasenda likes to reference the “four buckets” of a golf course operation: revenue, sales, payroll and other expenses.
“We drill down into each bucket and do a forensic analysis of the business, then we present opportunities to make improvements on all the buckets,” he says. “[With] some, you’ll hit a single or a double, and some you’ll find a home-run by streamlining expenses, improving quality or service at the facility, or by using expertise and relationships to market correctly.”
It’s a decidedly different approach than some management companies employ, to be sure, yet it’s a strategy that’s working for Wasenda.
“Anybody can come in and slash expenses,” he says. “We believe in enhancing service and revenues by keeping the customers and the owners happy. It’s hard work, and you have to be there on the ground to do it.”
In an era of economic uncertainty, in an industry that is merely trying to hold its own, appliedgolf Course Management of New Jersey is something of an oddity. The three-year-old firm is actually in a period of solid growth and appears headed for even better things to come. The company has eight golf courses under its management umbrella, and its reach has spread into Indiana, Maryland and South Carolina.
“We are always looking to add courses that are the right fit for our company,” says Dave Wasenda, owner of the firm. “We need to know that going into a new project we are certain that, given the opportunity, we can elevate services and programs to the overall member and guest experience and at the same time assist our owners in becoming more profitable.”
appliedgolf, headquartered in Millstone Township, N.J., offers what Wasenda terms a “very customized and unique approach” to management services, which range from golf operations, food and beverage, marketing, agronomic, financial operations, and much more. The company focuses on constant personal interaction between senior appliedgolf personnel and course owners, and has built a management team that works diligently to establish “synergistic” relationships with the members, staff and owners at each facility. The goal is to create an environment in which the experience is enjoyable for everyone. With that continuity, owners can attain operational and financial stability and focus on growing their business.
“There have been some instances where we were in discussions with a potential client and the fit wasn’t right,” says Wasenda. “We need to know that we can deliver what we promise. Our results and referrals are always our best marketing tools.”
He adds, “Fostering a feeling of worth and reward for the facility’s members, guests and staff, and making sure the experience at each property is enhanced is always our primary objective. We also reach our goals by making sure the owners see operational and financial results from our management. Fostering a feeling of worth and reward for the facility’s members, guests and staff, and making sure the experience at each property is enhanced is always our primary objective.”
At time of publication, appliedgolf is involved with five golf facilities in New Jersey–Knob Hill Golf Club in Manalapan, Hawk Pointe Golf Club in Washington, the Regency at Monroe in Monroe Township, Clearbrook Golf Course in Monroe Township and Renaissance at Manchester in Manchester. In addition, the company’s out of state clients include The Bridgewater Club, a prestigious, private, 18-hole championship course designed by Pete Dye located in Carmel, Indiana, Hunters Oak Golf Club, a divisions of The River Plantation in Queenstown, Maryland, and Lady’s Island Golf Course in Beaufort, South Carolina. The firm also manages the Knob Hill Bowling Center in Manalapan, N.J., which it plans to combine with Knob Hill Golf Club over the winter to create a year-round experience for their members.
Wasenda said, “There can be two more facilities added to our portfolio very soon.” He added, “Although we run the gamut of properties, from multi-million dollar a year income facilities to a public course that grosses under $300,000 a year in revenue, the overall philosophy remains the same as to our approach,” says Wasenda. “You have to change some simple operational details, obviously, depending on the type of club and members and guests you are serving. And we believe that is one of our core strengths. We have all worked at various types of clubs and we are managing a wide array of properties, so we are very familiar with each type of course profile, making us very well rounded.”
Lou Kubisa, appliedgolf Director of Golf and Head Professional at Knob Hill Golf Club, came to the company from a long career at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township. “Several of us knew that there was a great opportunity with appliedgolf and Dave. His philosophy and work ethic are second to none. At some companies, the top executive isn’t in there working as hard as the rest of the team in day to day operations and continuing to grow the business. Dave works harder than anybody and when you see that it makes you want to do your job even better and try harder.”
Kubisa, a skilled player who enjoys not only socializing with the members but also getting out for a little golf with them once in a while, believes being empowered to make his own calls makes all the difference when it comes to member and guest satisfaction. “I’m allowed the staff I need and products I have to have in the golf shops to meet our member and guest demands. One of our company’s strengths is that we let the head golf professionals be traditional pros. We believe that the head pro should be there, giving lessons, playing with the members whenever they can. It’s our goal to attract new golfers to our clubs and the head pros’ job to keep them there.” Speaking company wide, Kubisa says knowing who you are and why the customer will come to you is crucial, especially in this market. “We’re successful now and weathering the economic storm partly because we are market¬ed and priced properly for the areas we are in. And appliedgolf doesn’t make false promises, come in, make some money and leave in two years. What we say we will do.” Jay DelliSanti, Food and Beverage Director, says one of the most important steps a successful company can take is to listen to the consumer.
“We always listen to the customer, and we do different things to keep our members and guests very happy. Whether we have a beautiful small bar or a larger restaurant operation, someone can always get a simple sandwich or a full dinner. In this economy, we pride ourselves on having a great variety of products at affordable prices. The staff is always proactive with the members and guests and do things that will keep our operation fresh and interesting.”
So, yes, it is possible to start and grow a company in challenging economic times. You’ve just got to have the right places, the right plan, the right people, and obtain great results to make it happen.