By David Gould, Contributor, Golf Business
Daunting. That’s the word even the people in the capital project management business sometimes use to describe capital projects. So you know these kinds of projects can be, at best, intimidating.
But some say these projects are necessary and that there are ways to ease some of the pain from planning and completing them.
Jim Ehret, an engineer and owner of Ehret Club Consulting, a capital project consulting firm, who has produced countless renovation projects for high-end country clubs over the last 20 years, says facility and course improvements must be done or you risk losing customers.
“Keeping up your improvements gives you advantages over your competition to get more customers,” Ehret says. “And it’s important to realize that your facilities do become outdated. They should be updated every five to 10 years. Plus, having or adding amenities distinguishes you from other courses.”
Here are a few amenities that are trending at courses and clubs, according to Ehret:
Performance centers for ranges - Whether one bay or eight bays, these include technology that players might enjoy with a teaching pro or that they can use on their own after instructions.
Indoor virtual golf rooms - Gives golfers a controlled environment anytime in any weather to play or work on their swing with feedback statistics. Ehret says technology in golf simulation has come a long way.
Fitness centers – Can include equipment geared for club or racquet sports. Makes guests feel like they’re saving money on a gym membership.
Dining/bar pavilions – Makes for a nice gathering space that can feature fireplaces, TVs, covered bars and grilles. There are dividers specifically for pavilions and there are pull-down clear canvas walls that make them usable in cold weather.
Pickleball courts – The sport is exploding because non-racquet players can pick it up easily. And there’s great density for space as four pickleball courts can fit on one tennis court.
Pools - Resort-style pools are popular and can host swim meets.
Dorms for staff - Popular for larger clubs in higher cost-of-living areas where grounds, golf and clubhouse staff can live. Dorms can be eight to 40 rooms.
Maintenance centers – A place for golf grounds equipment. Plus, the centers provide a good meeting or break area for your grounds staff.
Business centers – Small cubbies with fabrics that absorb sound where users can make calls and conduct business in a semi-private setting.
Flex rooms – A space where, for example, you have ladies playing bridge in the morning, a social hour and luncheon around midday and big dinner at night. Think about how you can reuse space that’s underused in your clubhouse. But keep in mind that adding space is expensive – you have to heat it, cool it, clean it, etc.
Ehret offers these tips in starting a capital or improvement project:
Plan ahead – Allow plenty of time to plan as you determine the right size, needs and elements of the project. Projects that are $1 million or more are normally on a schedule of one to four years prior to physically starting. Collect pictures of what you see and like at other courses.
Get budget input early from a good source – Choose a professional who is familiar with the kind of project you’re considering – someone who perhaps has a track record on your type of project. Get ideas and options to consider along with the budget differentials at the early conceptual or schematic stages.
Test the budget along the way – Make sure the budget is in line with your expectations. Nothing is worse than planning a project with limited funds and then realizing once the design is done that the budget is short. It’s better to know your budget limits and do not design over them.
Get bids – Once the design is done, you’ll want to bid your project out to three or more qualified contractors.
This article was featured in the July/August edition of Golf Business magazine.