A local country club has tapped the owner of two Chesterfield golf courses to take over its operations and get membership levels back near their pre-recession highs.
Hanover Country Club in Ashland has hired Mike Hatch and his company Acumen Golf to manage the 55-year-old facility.
Hatch owns and manages Brandermill Country Club and Birkdale Golf Club in Chesterfield County. Acumen Golf also manages Windy Hill Sports’ golf courses on Midlothian Turnpike as well as other clubs outside the state.
Hatch and Acumen replace national course management firm Billy Casper Golf as the overseers of Hanover Country Club.
The change in management was announced at a member meeting this week and was spurred by a group of HCC members who recently brought more capital into the club.
Robert Yevich, president of HCC, said a group of about 10 members put up $200,000 out of pocket earlier this year while the club looked for ways to improve the bottom line.
“We feel like we have our expenses under control, and we’d like to get our membership back up,” Yevich said. “We thought it was time to really embark on a focused marketing plan to attract more local members.”
The $200,000 raise followed a funding effort at the end of 2012 when about 100 members and some surrounding neighbors – working as The Friends of Hanover Country Club LLC – pulled together $1.5 million to purchase all of the club’s debt from the bank.
HCC had been managed by Billy Casper since 2011 on a three-year contract. The club first sought a third-party management company after its membership rolls took a hit from the recession.
“Like a lot of clubs after the recession hit, we lost a lot of members and we needed some outside help,” Yevich said.
The club currently has about 285 members. Its pre-downturn high was around 425. The club will shoot to increase its member list by 75 over the next few years.
“It’s going to be a two- or three-year process,” Yevich said.
Under Hatch’s leadership, the club will remain semi-private.
“Allowing the public and potential members to come and enjoy what the club members experience daily will be key to the club’s future success,” Hatch said. “The course is in great condition, and we will be able to quickly improve the clubhouse amenities and member services.”
Yevich said he heard about Hatch’s success at his courses in Chesterfield and thought a local perspective would help HCC.
“He’s local and he understands the Richmond market,” Yevich said.
Yevich said one of the first orders of business under new management will be to determine how to set membership fees, whether to have initiation fees in addition to monthly dues and if the club should require food and beverage minimums, as is typical at many country clubs.
It will look to draw new members from the two communities that surround the course, Country Club Hills and River Run. Yevich said the club will try to tap into the influx of new development nearby in Hanover County.
Yevich said there’s still a market for country clubs in the 55-and-older demographic. But there’s no doubt it’s becoming more difficult to attract young families, he said.
“If you look at the national numbers, I think golf is overbuilt and play is on the decline,” he said.