Country clubs reaching critical mass

Filed under: News |

Laura Neumann is vice president and general manager of Cheyenne Mountain Resort, which is home to the Country Club of Colorado.

Tracy Kolata drives the golf cart around the Country Club of Colorado’s golf course, showing off the links to prospective members. Later, she’ll walk them by the tennis courts; show them the fitness center and the swimming pools.
It’s a routine she’s extremely familiar with – and a job she performs with increasing frequency, as the club wraps up a successful membership drive that has left it near its cap on golf memberships.
As the membership sales manager for the club, Kolata stays busy – the club only has 15 spaces left on its golf membership, then will begin a waiting list for new members who also want to golf. The club keeps golf memberships at 440 in order to maintain regular tee times for members. In the club’s 32 year history, this is only the second time it has reached its membership cap.
“We reached the cap in 1998,” Kolata remembers. “We expect we’ll reach the cap by the end of the November.”
Part of the Cheyenne Mountain Resort that also includes a hotel and conference center, the 215-acre private country club includes access to the hotel, as well as fitness, dining and other recreation activities.
JoAnn Kastner, director of sales and marketing, said this year stands apart from previous ones because of the country club’s marketing efforts. By teaming with local real estate agents, she said, the club has reached more families than in the past.
“In the past few years, we have hovered near the cap at 425 or 430,” she said. “The housing market here is so healthy, particularly in our back yard. So, we welcome all new residents with VIP tours of the club; we let them experience what’s in their own back yard.”
In the spring, the club launched an incentive program with agents that encouraged them to bring clients to the club. Often, the incentives are passed on to clients, she said.
In addition, new members receive a 20 percent discount on the initiation fee of $25,000 for golf and 10 percent on the recreation fee of $7,000. Those discounts are in effect until the end of the year. The club also is deferring payment of dues until April, Kolata said.
“One thing brings in more prospective members than our marketing plan: word of mouth from our current members,” she said. “We get so many referrals from them.”
While the club offers several programs, only the golf membership has a cap, she said. The recreational membership – which includes all the amenities, except golf – is informally kept around 750 members. Currently, the Country Club of Colorado has 650 recreational members.
Cheyenne Mountain isn’t the only private golf club in the city that is near its limit. The Garden of the Gods Club has only 55 memberships available. Because the club boasts 27 holes, the golf membership cap is 525, higher than the Country Club of Colorado. The fees are higher as well.
“The basic resident’s fee is $35,000,” said Maggie McGee, director of sales at Garden of the Gods. “It’s going up to $40,000. We’re building a spa and wellness center, beginning next year, so we needed to raise the prices.”
The recreation fee at Garden of the Gods is $20,000, McGee said. Many of the members live in Texas or Oklahoma, and their fees are different, she said. The Country Club of Colorado depends largely on local residents.
While the fees seem high, both clubs offer monthly payments, after a down payment. At Garden of the Gods, the members can get most of the money back if they leave the club. The membership also is transferable, a new benefit added recently, McGee said. Memberships at The Country Club of Colorado are not transferable, Kastner said.
The Broadmoor’s Golf Club only sells membership to people who purchase property at one of the resort’s two developments, said membership manager Sherry Clark.
“We started this about 10, 12 years ago,” she said. “People who own property in one of our developments can have golf memberships; anyone else goes on a waiting list.”
The club then determines how well the lots in the developments are selling, and selects members from the list, she said.
Kastner said The Country Club of Colorado has a strong recreation component, in addition to a world-class golf course. The program includes the lake at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, as well as tennis courts, swimming pools and a fitness facility.
“The lake is a ‘working’ lake,” she said. “You can windsurf or fish in it. It’s one of the things so many people don’t realize about the club – the hotel is part of the entire picture.”
Kolata and Kastner believe there is another reason for the club’s success: its focus on family, which Kastner said is unusual for country clubs in Colorado Springs.
“When you look at our demographics, you can see we’re a family club,” she said. “That makes us different in the marketplace. Other clubs don’t focus on the recreational family programs – the swimming lessons, the competitive aquatics, that sort of thing. It speaks to the depth of our recreation program.”
Other clubs also boast recreation programs rivaling The Country Club of Colorado. At Garden of the Gods, the club’s dining room provides direct views of the majestic rock formations at the national park. It also has a fitness center, heated pool and a junior Olympic pool for children.
-Amy.Gillentine@csbj.com