Golf in Tucson is all about delivering value.
Golf is important to Tucson, in terms of tourism, revenues, employment and taxes. However, keeping the golf scene healthy is a challenge in an industry that has experienced a downturn over the last 10-plus years.
The National Golf Foundation recently released a report on the state of the industry. Some specifics:
- Nationally, the number of golf courses has been on the decline since 2006; there are 7 percent fewer courses in the U.S. now than there were in 2006. About 15 new courses opened in 2017, but over 200 closed.
- 32.1 million people played golf in 2017, a slight increase over the 32.0 million who played in 2016.
On a more local scale, in 2014 the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics at the University of Arizona looked at the extent of the golf industry’s contribution to the Arizona economy. Arizona golf generated:
- $3.9 billion in sales in 2014, including golf facility operations, golf tourism, and golf-related businesses.
- More than 41,700 jobs and $1.5 billion in labor income.
- An estimated $72 million in state and local taxes.
In the midst of this industry situation, let me introduce Rick Price, the director of golf at The Views Golf Club in Oro Valley. Rick is reversing trends through his attention to detail, focus on people, and the delivery of value.
Price is a longtime Arizona resident whose golf career began on the golf team at the UA (and he’s still a very good stick).
Pursuing his passion for the game, Price played professionally after college for a short time until switching roles to professional tournament operations, running mini-tours across the country and working with the PGA Tour. In 1990, he was hired as an assistant pro at El Conquistador. He continued to build experience being a club professional at several courses in Southern Arizona. He was director for the PGA SWS Chapter, and publishing editor of Golf Arizona magazine.
He took over the helm at The Views 15 months ago and immediately set about changing the club’s operation and perception in the marketplace. Price knows that golfers look at primarily three things to determine where they play: the quality of the course, the professionalism of the operation, and price. The first two factors in relation to price contribute to the golfer’s perception of value.
One advantage Price had from the beginning is the golf course. It is in excellent condition thanks to Superintendent Mike Kropf and his crew. It is a challenging layout for players of all skill levels, and it is very scenic. The name The Views exactly describes the panoramic vistas of the Catalina Mountains seen from almost every hole.
However, Price did need to change some things. He began with his team: he emphasized attitude, presentation, professionalism, and service. Training on these factors elevated each employee’s perception of the value The Views offers. The end result is a committed team that focuses on delivering value to each and every player who visits.
Price’s knowledge and experience in the golf industry in Tucson enabled him to recognize the position The Views Golf Club holds in relation to other courses throughout the Tucson region. Employing some contrarian thinking, Price raised prices to levels he felt appropriately reflected the value of their product.
The financial results after 15 months prove that Price’s moves were correct. Resident memberships are up, public rounds played are up, and operating costs are down.
Tournament events such as the Oro Valley Amateur, Oro Valley Senior and the Southern Arizona Team Championships premiered to enthusiastic, high levels of participation. Several nonprofits and community organizations now choose The Views for their annual golf tournaments.
Regardless of the state of an industry, or the economic conditions in a market, businesses will always succeed by remembering one thing. Deliver high value at a fair price. If you do, customers will do business with you. Rick Price knows this, and continues to showcase how to keep golf healthy, not only in Tucson, but as an example for golf courses nationwide.