The operators of Salmon Run Golf Course did not turn a profit in 2021, but revenue projections were exceeded and the group hopes to break even in the coming year.
“From our perspective, what does 2022 look like?” asked Michael Sharp, president and CEO of Petaluma-based CourseCo, Inc. “While we budgeted a loss (for 2022) operationally, I think in the $40,000 range, we feel pretty strong that this might be the year we break even and then build off of that.”
In November 2020, the Brookings City Council turned over control of the 18-hole golf course to CourseCo under a 10-year contract, though it’s still technically owned by the city.
The Petaluma-based company manages 41 golf courses in the U.S. and beat out its competitor - Early Management Team and the operator of the course the four years prior - in a competitive RFP process to run the course.
The management shift also came on the heels of COVID-19 restrictions that kept many people home, creating some uncertainties about whether the course could turn a profit any time soon. On Dec. 13, Sharp delivered the Salmon Run Golf Course Annual Report before the Brookings City Council.
“We still have a little more time to go in the year and our financials trail about three weeks before I actually get the numbers, but we are going to beat our revenue projections,” said Sharp.
According to Sharp, CourseCo projected that it would reach $720,619 in revenue by the end of 2021, and through October they hit $630,431 in total revenue - meeting nearly 85% of that goal.
“We are pretty proud of that in our first year of operation,” said Sharp.
Revenues were about $3,000 more a month than the group thought it would make, though inclement weather over the last two months of the year would realistically put CourseCo about $10,000 to $20,000 above its revenue goal.
When CourseCo took over the management, the city agreed to pay them $84,000 annually from golf course revenue, and in return CourseCo agreed to contribute $60,000 toward capital improvements on the golf course.
“I wish I could say that we had done a lot more in our first year, but we were definitely hindered by a lot of factors with COVID, which impeded some of our progress, but we still did a lot,” said Sharp.
Some of that included adding POS software, updating the facility’s website and social media platforms, implementing hospitality and safety training for its 17-employees and maintaining on-going projects like cart path fence repairs, expanding the driving range and irrigation repairs. Sharp added that he believes their marketing push put the “Salmon Run brand out there,” resulting in a business league of 12 teams that collectively logged 672 rounds of golf, several tournaments, stronger partnerships with nearby lodging facilities and a three-week golf camp that brought 135 youth to the green.
“Modest” pay increases also went out to staff, and in August Chris Clark was named general manager.
Clark, a resident of Gold Beach, grew up in Brookings and started working at the course in 1991 in the pro shop. He left for a few years to pursue an education and worked at another course and in the transportation industry, but returned to the Oregon coast in 2007. Since then, Clark has also coached several sports teams at Gold Beach High School.
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with our amazing team here at Salmon Run,” Clark said. “Everyone here is passionate about this entire property and are committed to giving everyone who comes the absolute best experience possible.”
On the food and beverage side, CourseCo also appears to be outpacing its prior projections of $144,349 by the end of the year.
As of the end of October, there were $103,106 in food and beverage sales, or about $2,000 more a month than anticipated.
“Catering was virtually knocked out during COVID and it took a lot of creativity to work around that,” said Clark.
Moving forward, Sharp assured the council that he remains “bullish” but persistent COVID fears could present an unwelcome mulligan of people staying home. Shortages in personnel, products and housing are also a problem.
“We’ve tried to hire a superintendent several times over the last six months and every time we get down to the last one or two people and either make them an offer and ask them to come visit, they can’t find housing,” Sharp said, adding that a new “stellar” candidate is being courted but that he and his wife would need to find a place to live.
“Can you put housing on the course, maybe tucked away in some corner?” asked Mayor Ron Hedenskog.
“It is something we could explore,” Sharp responded. “A couple of our facilities have housing above maintenance.”
“It could require permits, but we could do that for you,” Hedenskog said.
According to Clark, the expansion of the driving range experienced a setback because they couldn’t find someone to move the poles back, but the property is rezoned and they secured a contract with a company that will install eight poles, add new netting with anchors and “we are looking at the possibility of putting in new irrigation as well so we can have grass all-year round,” he said.
The range is slated to be completed by the spring.
With improvements, however, come potential price increases. Sharp said they plan to raise green fees anywhere from $1 to $2.
Depending on the time of year and whether a golf court is rented, daily rates currently range from $34 to $54 for 18 holes, or $23 to $39 for nine holes. Kids under 19 currently pay $8. Salmon Run Golf Course is located at 99040 South Bank Chetco River Road. Jack Creek runs through the course, and steelhead and salmon are often seen spawning from the many bridges that cross the creek. Other amenities include a restaurant, full-service bar, pro shop and PGA teaching staff.
The Occasion Hall offers facilities for weddings, receptions, conferences, reunions and meetings.