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Old 08-06-2015, 07:50 PM
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Doofenshmirtz Doofenshmirtz is offline
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Default Fee threshold for success of private courses.

Talking to one of the Trey Texas Ranch owners over the weekend got me thinking about what amount of fees would be required to make the investment in a private course worth it from the standpoint a prospective owner. Of course, land values differ and are going to be the determining factor, but assuming that equipment and installation costs are $20,000, for 18 holes (what a local park commission paid for 18 holes last year), free design, and rural land costs in my area (about $7,500/acre) for 20 acres for a course, I reach a course cost of $170,000. Dismissing all opportunity costs (assuming a dedicated owner that just wants the course to provide a ROI based only on the cost to put in the course) and assuming minimal maintenance costs, including mowing, at $1000/month (wild guess) for half of the year ($6,000) and a proshop that provides enough money to cover the cost of an attendant for fee collection, I get an initial investment of about $176,000.

For a 10% return on this investment, the owner would need to collect about $18,000 in fees per year even assuming no property taxes. At 50 rounds per week (let "round" mean a single player for a day). the owner woud need to charge about $7.50 per round. Given the costs that I've missed or ignored, it seems like a more realistic number is going to be between $10-$15 per round unless the number of rounds per week is significantly higher, which it certainly would not be in my area.

I'm betting that there are plenty of people who just wouldn't pay that much for even a good quality local course. But maybe I'm wrong on this. Do these numbers appear to even be in the ball park?
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Old 08-06-2015, 07:53 PM
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dysmike dysmike is online now
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I think you're about right for greens fees. For a good, well cared for, course (with basic amenities) I'd pay that.
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Old 08-06-2015, 08:20 PM
klmdg klmdg is offline
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Personally, I think daily fees are the way to go, especially if the course is off the beaten path. It is also a lot easier to manage with limited staff. I would gladly pay 20-25 for daily usage of a nice private course.
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Old 08-06-2015, 08:47 PM
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DavidSauls DavidSauls is online now
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20 acres is rather small. You can build an 18-hole course there, but you'll be using every inch of land. It's got to be a better course than the free courses it's competing with. That's going to be tough.

You also need to account for the time for construction, maintenance, and oversight. It's not a return on investment if you don't. 10% on $176,000 in the stock market, where you do nothing, is different from 10% on $176,000 with 500 or 1000 hours of work.

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Old 08-06-2015, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doofenshmirtz View Post
I'm betting that there are plenty of people who just wouldn't pay that much for even a good quality local course. But maybe I'm wrong on this. Do these numbers appear to even be in the ball park?
Probably. You have to consider how many people will pay that much, and how often they will. You might find a lot of people who will pay 6 times a year, but few who pay 6 times a month, or more.

The catch 22 is that the more people in your area, the better the chances of finding enough who will pay. But the more people in your area, the more land costs.

The number of people who will pay also depends on the local scene---how many courses in the area, how good they in comparison, and perhaps how crowded they are.
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Old 08-06-2015, 09:06 PM
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Your maintenance costs are high, and at any rate wouldn't be part of the sum needed for return on investment since they recur every year. They are on top of the return on investment.

But you can add in equipment. Depending on the land, you're going to spend at least $5,000 for a mower and other power tools; if you need a tractor, a lot more. (If it's all in deep woods with no mowing, then less).

Add stocking a Pro shop to the investment. 1,000 discs, which isn't as impressive a total as it sounds, is going to cost $10,000 wholesale. If you don't stock it well, it's not going to generate income to pay an attendant.

All of this assumes someone liquid enough to pay cash for the land, and the other investments. If you finance it, you need a great return to cover interest.
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Old 08-06-2015, 09:35 PM
Gblambert Gblambert is offline
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We just opened our courses to the public last week and decided to go a different route. Since there's an abundance of free city park courses in our local area, we decided to charge a low greens fee to draw more customers in - $5 per day for unlimited play on both courses. Then we can sell snacks and beverages, discs, t-shirts, beer, etc in the pro shop. Disc rentals and lessons from a local pro will also be available. A stage is planned for small concerts to hopefully bring in some non-disc golf customers as well. Charging more than $5 in this area would be a tough sell, but by diversifying our revenue stream we hope to make it a profitable business. Time will tell.

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Old 08-06-2015, 09:37 PM
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Doofenshmirtz Doofenshmirtz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidSauls View Post
Your maintenance costs are high . . .
Maybe, just the cost of mowing 20 acres twice per week in the South could exceed that, but it certainly might be off in cooler areas. In any event, I'm really just trying to ballpark the cost of a decent course. When talking to the TTR owner, she indicated that they have spent $200,000 to install their courses and that didn't include the cost of the land. Much of that went to the designer I'd bet, but it was also clear that they had high equipment costs due to the cost of bridges for creek crossings. They are also out in the sticks with little opportunity cost issues related to other uses for the land. She also laughed at the question of whether they were getting their money back on the course. It appeared that no more than 6-8 people played last weekend at $10 per day.
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Old 08-06-2015, 09:48 PM
RobA RobA is offline
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Those green fees seem very high, especially in markets where there are other playing options on public land. I wouldn't pay that much when I have plenty of excellent public courses within a 45 minute drive. I am not sure if the pay to play model is sustainable.
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Old 08-06-2015, 09:51 PM
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Martin Dewgarita Martin Dewgarita is offline
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The course owners that I've talked to recently that have been able to make it work say they're about able to break even on greens fees, but are able to put the business in the black through alcohol sales. Yet none of them employ a beer cart...
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