LAKEWOOD, Wash. (July 16, 2012) – The new ownership group of the Oakbrook Golf Course in Lakewood, Wash. is using a non-traditional and pioneering business model to secure the golf course’s financial future and entice more golfers to walk the greens. The once private golf club has switched from an expensive membership model to annual subscriptions at significantly lower prices. Since introducing the model at the beginning of the year, the number of golfers at Oakbrook has increased more than 420 percent.
RMG Golf Course Management LLC (RMG) bought Oakbrook in late 2011 and the ownership team immediately began to implement the subscription model. Between January and May of this year, the roster of golfers grew from 124 memberships to 650 subscriptions, and the sign up rate has not slowed down. The ownership of RMG includes Puyallup-born professional golfer Ryan Moore and his father, Michael Moore, as well as 12 other partners. The senior Moore is the CEO of RMG. His younger son Jason Moore is the vice president of marketing.
The City of Lakewood Economic Development Manager, Ellie Chambers-Grady, knows the change at Oakbrook is a huge benefit to the area and to the neighbors. “Everyone loves a turnaround story during challenging economic times,” she adds. “The city always welcomes businesses who help us improve our infrastructure. We need them to grow our local economy. It is also nice to have another neighborhood restaurant nearby.”
The subscription model was a reaction by the partners in RMG to the real-world barriers of playing golf, such as cost of play per round, the amount of time required for a game and the difficulty of learning the sport. Moore knows that the subscription model takes away the first barrier. He also believes the upgraded course conditions, as well as the availability of encouraging instructors and a variety of lessons offerings will remove the final two barriers.
Encouraging more women to take up the sport is another motivating factor. “Golf on private courses is a broken business model, because of limited access. The stigma that golf is a sport for men doesn’t help either,” notes Ryan Moore who travels the country and internationally, playing on up to 40 of the best courses known to golfers each year. “I want everyone to enjoy the sport that I love and I want them to feel welcome on our courses, and I do mean everyone.”
There are three levels of unlimited golf at Oakbrook: Club level at $49 per month; Premier at $119; and All Access at $179. Subscribers can add low-cost package upgrades for spouses or children. These prices are in sharp contrast to the previous monthly fee of over $400 and an additional $800 in annual expenses that Oakbrook members paid when the course was private. Each of the three subscription
options have different ranges of times that golfers can access the course. Subscribers can easily sign-up for tee-times online. The “private club” amenities are available with all packages including unlimited driving-range balls, access to the recently remodeled restaurant and bar, locker rooms and tee-time booking.
According to Chief Operating Officer of RMG, Shawn Cucciardi, the company’s mission is to make world-class golf accessible to everyone and to enhance the variety of people who are playing. “We now have members young and old playing,” adds Cucciardi. “This is exactly what we wanted to achieve and is a true reflection of the Lakewood community. The difference between the previous membership roster and the current subscription roster speaks volumes about our approach."
The RMG ownership selected Oakbrook because of the proximity of the course to the two other courses that they manage: The Classic and McCormick Woods. The demographics in Lakewood were a bonus. “We knew that Lakewood had the perfect customer base for our endeavor and we wanted to test it in a community that was interested in new ideas,” added the senior Moore.
The Moores and their partners have made a significant financial commitment towards upgrading the course and facilities. Due to dwindling revenues, the course was not in its best shape when the ownership exchange occurred. To-date, they have restored the greens to their legendary smooth and speedy pace and have attacked organic issues in the fairways by ‘punching and sanding’ and fertilizing to improve overall turf health. Additional improvements include grooming of the bunkers and the addition of more sand, which has made them very ‘playable’ hazards.
The experience at the Oakhouse, the golf course’s restaurant and bar, has also been completely overhauled. The interior updates now make the space family and golfer friendly. The menu is more robust with Northwest fare from steak, burgers, salads and pasta to a full gluten-free menu. Cucciardi believes that “the “come-as-you-are” mood is drawing new diners, as the number of guests has grown beyond initial expectations since welcoming in the public.
About Lakewood, Washington
Lakewood is the second largest city in Pierce County and the eighteenth largest in Washington. It is strategically located between Sea-Tac International Airport and Olympia, the state’s capital. The city is home to 60,000 residents and nearly 3,200 businesses. Lakewood also is the host community to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Camp Murray, two major military installations. In 2011, Lakewood was named one of the nation’s One Hundred Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance for the fifth year. In addition to vibrant residential and business communities, the city offers a myriad of recreational opportunities for residents and tourists. These include: five lakes offering water skiing, rowing, and fishing; four golf courses; Fort Steilacoom Park, and Lakewold Gardens, to name a few. The city also is the gateway to: Chambers Bay Golf Course, selected as home to the 2015 U.S. Open; Mt. Rainier National Park; and Puget Sound waterways and islands.