High Bridge Hills golf rounds played up, revenues down

Representatives from Billy Casper Golf, the management company for the borough-owned High Bridge Hills Golf Course on Route 31, gave the Borough Council and attending public a 2015 Year of Review presentation at the council’s Thursday, March 31, meeting.

Ryan Phelps, regional director of operations, Greg Sinder, regional director of marketing, and Jay Palmer, general manager, gave the presentation looking at last year’s numbers and forecasting the year ahead.

The course had 31,356 rounds of golf played last year, the highest round count in more than six years, although the revenues decreased slightly from 960,010 in 2014 to 955,049, said Phelps.

‘We’re doing more rounds, but getting less revenues,’ Phelps said.

He blamed the downturn in revenues to discounts in prices due to a general downturn in the industry.

‘The golf industry as a whole is very flat,’ Phelps said. ‘More courses are closing than opening nationwide.’

Sinder added that inclement weather had a slightly negative impact to revenue overall in 2015, especially during the weekends, which are prime golf times.

Palmer said that the improvement in weather as the year went on did help them beat the budget for the second consecutive year,and he believes the course is off to a strong start for 2016.

After using a temporary tee on the 17th hole in an attempt to have fewer golf balls leaving the property into nearby homes and driveways, the new tee box constructed on the hole has now opened for the season.

The former par 5 hole is now a par 4.

‘We now have a wider landing zone than we had before,’ Palmer said.

Councilwoman Adrienne Shipps noted that she has already gotten positive comments from members of the public and golfers about the improvement.

Phelps said that the completion of the men’s locker room will add another revenue option to the course.

Palmer said that three leagues have returned from 2014, which is a positive sign for busieness ahead.

The course hosted a high school meet with 20 teams competing, and the course has been selected as the home course for the Voorhees High School golf team.

The course also hosted a GolfWeek Amateur Tour which brought national exposure to more than 160,000 subscribers of the nationally recognized Golfweek magazine.

He said they are also introducing a new marketing plan to promote player loyalty, which should drive revenues.

They also plan to adjust prices upward during the busiest times, and discounting fees to encourage better use of the course during slow days.

Events in preparation for 2016 include another Resident Appreciation Day, to be held on Saturday, July 16, with golf, Footgolf and mini-golf clinics, as well BBQ and live music. The event will be free for all borough residents.

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