The pre-opening period is often one of the most challenging and intensive phases for a golf club – but can also be one of the most rewarding. A smooth, well-planned approach can ensure long-term success – equally, mistakes or oversights made during this phase can prove very costly.
With experience of multiple successful pre-openings all around the globe, we have learnt that although there is more than one-way to skin a cat, having a clear framework of procedures and controls in place will not only ensure the successful delivery of a new golf club but also allow the process to be a fulfilling, rather than stressful, experience.
With this in mind, we’ve listed some of the learnings we’ve picked-up along the way;
1. Keep an open mind
It’s easy to step into a project with a set idea or picture of how the club should operate and the services or experience it should offer. In many cases, golf club owners are often fanatical golfer themselves and, quite rightly, have their own ideas and desires for how THEIR club should be positioned. What may seem an outlandish idea can often, after consideration, turn out to be a unique selling point – I have lost count of the number of times this has happened! Our role is to interpret the owner’s objectives, understand the local or regional market and then use our experience to convert this thinking into a financial model than can then help guide decision making.
2. Design with a purpose
Only once the operating concept for both the golf course and Club is clearly understood, will we prepare a series of detailed design briefs that will be used by the architectural team to deliver an initial set of plans and layouts for the key facilities – often the Clubhouse, Golf Academy and Maintenance Facility. These initial layouts are then massaged to ensure operational efficiency and alignment with the Club concept. Mundane items such as storage, MEP and office space can often be forgotten in lieu of more exciting front-of-house elements and balancing the practical with the desirable is often a key role!
3. Develop a detailed Pre-Opening Budget
Once the operating model is clear, developing the pre-opening budget is often the next step in ensuring the owners have a clear picture of the overall investment required – and when funds need to be available. There are multiple elements to this budget, including setting-up and running the pre-opening office, developing the brand and logo, web-site development, golf course grow-in and pre-opening maintenance, recruitment and payroll – and of course an extensive list of FF&E.
4. Understand what’s really important
Working closely with architects, contractors and the client’s project team – we develop and monitor a detailed pre-opening schedule that keeps everyone aligned – and which raises a flag if certain key activities fall behind. Not everything needs to happen in sequence and often doesn’t, but experience ensures that those really critical items such as planning approvals, procurement tenders and owner sign-offs happen when they need to.
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