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June 2019

Final Thoughts with Kristine Botelho

Kristine Botelho
COO, ST. CROIX NATIONAL
GOLF AND EVENT CENTER
SOMERSET, WISCONSIN

It was a tough winter. How has the extreme weather impacted your facility?
We are located on the Wisconsin border near the Twin Cities. We had heavy snow. This was followed by extreme cold temperatures, which hammered the greens in some courses. Fortunately, our greens are 99 percent bentgrass, and what little Poa Annua we have (a non-desirable species in greens) was stunted and the bentgrass is thriving in its place.

Do you think owners should be concerned about the changes in weather patterns?
Golf owners should be concerned about any elements that could affect business and play for golfers. In the Midwest, we are used to extreme changes in the weather. Some years we open in March and some in May. This means that we need to make every day count as two.

Who is the new golfer you’re trying to attract?
Our goal is to attract the any golfer who wants to have fun with family and friends, to be the place where people can come and enjoy golf, the scenery and the ambiance. Our marketing is anything but typical in the industry. We strive to be bold, funny, edgy and energetic in our messaging. If it isn’t bold, it blends into looking like every other golf course marketing.

How do you feel about alternative ways of play vs. traditional golf to bring in more revenue?
Last year we were open for golf for only 4.5 months. In the Midwest, embracing winter sports will enable us to build other revenue streams. This past November we installed four golf simulators and are expanding our clubhouse to have golf all year and keep our trained workforce. Fortunately, we have on our property a famous abandoned ski hill, Snowcrest, and we are beginning to design a tubing hill, skiing and snowboard park. This investment will help secure other additional winter revenue.

What do you think is the biggest misconception that the golf industry is fighting today?
There are many misconceptions such as expensive, hard to play and taking too much time. The simulation golf is helping break those misconceptions. Our focus will be on bringing golf and fitness to our guests with the importance of warming up, stretching and strengthening to improve your game. Further, offering healthy food options as well as the staple food of hotdogs, fried cheese curds and Salted Nut Rolls.

Who do you see as your biggest competitor?
Our biggest competition is always other golf courses. All golf courses need to do well without having to slash rates. Our goal is to differentiate ourselves and offer an attractive proposition for all players. We strive to make our public course feel like a very personal course for all players with better conditions and customer service. Topgolf entered this market and we hope they will help convert non-golfers to play more and to have fun with the sport while increasing the simulator business.

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