Dalhousie will take national approach

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Beginning its second full year of operation, Dalhousie Golf Club still has its master plan in place but has added a dogleg to the course its following.

The club, which has been semi-private since opening in June of 2002, officially became a private club at the start of February, managing member Cord Dombrowski said Tuesday. Dombrowski also revealed a new national membership direction for the course, which was recently ranked No. 8 nationally by Golf Digest among top new private golf clubs.

"From the very beginning the plans were to become a private golf club," Dombrowski said. "I think the only thing that has changed slightly is what kind of private club do we want to be. We want to maintain private status and then incorporate the concept of national membership."

Dombrowski said Dalhousie has contracted the services of O.B. Sports Golf Management of Scottsdale, Ariz., to direct marketing efforts on a national scale.

"They have developed a plan, tactics and strategy to attract national members," Dombrowski said.

He said the location, the quality of the course and affordable price make Dalhousie attractive on a national level. In Golf Digest, Dalhousie had the cheapest initiation fee ($7,500) of the top 10 courses listed and was among five with initiation costs below $100,000. Dombrowski also said research showed that 60 percent of the nation's population could reach Cape Girardeau with a 5 1/2-hour drive or 90-minute flight. That target area spans north to the Great Lakes, west to Colorado, south into Texas and to much of the East Coast.

"There are 21 million golfers in America and we're looking for around 250," Dombrowski said. "That's not a very high percentage."

He said the national approach will be a grass-roots movement instead of high-profile advertising. O.B. Sports will oversee the marketing, which includes the making of a video on the course and Cape Girardeau area. The video will complement a word-of-mouth approach, and 27 metropolitan areas, which already have contacts, have been targeted.

The national plan includes the construction of accommodations for out-of-town members as well as completion of golf facilities on the grounds, which include a pro shop and driving range. A clubhouse has yet to be constructed, but a downtown restaurant/social facility is in operation for members and prospective members. Dombrowski expects construction on the national member facilities to begin as soon as weather permits and looks for completion in the fall.

He said the new direction came into focus last fall when analyzing the club's membership, which stands at 150. Sixty percent of the membership resided outside of Cape Girardeau, and about 12 percent of members were of a national nature. The club has members residing in California, Arizona, Utah, Texas and northern Illinois.

"It kind of came to us," Dombrowski said. "Our membership is scattered around the country. We already are a national club. We just haven't called ourselves a national club."

Dombrowski has since researched the approach by visiting nationals clubs in South Carolina, Colorado, Arizona and Texas. Along with finding out about their operation, he discovered something about their membership.

"We found out they were flying over Cape Girardeau to get to Florida, Arizona or Palm Springs from where they live, for whatever reasons," Dombrowski said. "But we have components that are just as good, and in some cases better, than what some of these other facilities have."

Dombrowski said the national membership of the clubs he visited ranged from 15 percent to 95 percent. He seeks a 40 percent national membership for Dalhousie and a total membership in the range of 600 to 750.

"The model has already been constructed," he said, "and it's just fitting our club into that model."

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