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December 2021

Landscapes Golf is Devilish about Data-Driven Devils Tower

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By Scott Kauffman

With more than 40 years of experience and 1,800-plus projects to his company’s credit, golf business icon and Landscapes Unlimited founder Bill Kubly is recognized for building one of the world’s biggest and best course construction firms.

Now, the Lincoln, Neb.-based company is quietly making a name for itself as one of the leading course owners/operators through sister company Landscapes Golf Management. And the person leading Landscapes’s notable growth is executive vice president Mark Mattingly.

When Mattingly was tasked with taking over Landscapes’s business development seven years ago, the firm had approximately 28 properties in some form of ownership or third-party management. Heading into the new year, the Landscapes portfolio was nearly double the size, with 55 properties in 21 states as well as China and Canada, making the company one of America’s five largest golf operators.

One of the more compelling facilities emblematic of Landscapes’s impressive rise is the Golf Club at Devils Tower – a private resort-style destination community in the tiny Wyoming town of Hulett. For generations, this area was best known for being the home to America’s first national monument in 1906, the striking Devils Tower butte that rises 5,112 feet above sea level between the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains.

Now, Hulett has another appealing reason to visit, what with world-class championship golf and numerous other outdoor pursuits at Devils Tower - the club.  A case in point is that since Landscapes took over day-to-day operations in 2013 from the longtime family-run facility, the club’s membership is thriving under the regional/national membership program Landscapes introduced and gross revenues have nearly tripled in that same timeframe.

According to Mattingly, the growth at Devils Tower and Landscapes’s emergence as a leading golf operator can be attributed to two things: the strategic decision by company president Tom Everett and Mattingly to build a more “robust support staff” at the national level and the adoption of more effective technology solutions.

Among the first things implemented that would turn out to have lasting impact was the investment in creating a customized customer relationship manager (CRM) platform eventually acquired by Zendesk and the integration of Metolius Golf’s new business intelligence tools. As it turned out, the latter technology solutions were created by Landscapes’s former Director of Marketing/Revenue management Ross Liggett, who happened to be Mattingly’s first strategic hire towards that “deeper staff” he knew Landscapes would need if they were to ever grow into a national powerhouse one day.

“The business intelligence dashboard (Ross Liggett) built is game changing for our customers across the portfolio,” Mattingly says. “We have been talking a lot for some time that wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our on-site managers, and regional managers and senior executives in our home office, had visibility into each property in one centralized location and understood all of the elements of the business in real time in one spot.”

For instance, Metolius’s Cloud Connect dashboard is collecting information in real time from the point-of-sales system, data from all the respective sales managers’ Zendesk (CRM) platforms and analytics from various advertising and social media campaigns. The beauty of it all, Mattingly adds, is the fact that  management is no longer spending valuable time to try to find this data, let alone tracking it all by hand and potentially making “keystroke errors from that standpoint.” Now, it’s viewable by anybody via the cloud through the simple push of a smartphone button.

“Plus we can look at all of the data and trends independently by category or look at them in the aggregate so it’s really insightful,” Mattingly adds, “and we’re no longer looking at just financial statements that are due and coming in  three weeks after the month is over. It’s just allowed us to make more effective decisions in real time, and that’s the game changer.”
No less of a game changer for Hulett is the golf club.  The club spans some 1,000 breathtaking acres within eyesight of the 115-year-old namesake national monument and is the brainchild of the Nieman family, who built a local logging legacy that goes back four generations.

Recently, the club began developing homesites and added private club lodging, walking trails, skeet shooting and fishing ponds. Perhaps the most unique amenity is the fact that members can fly in from “tarmac to tee” thanks to the club’s 5,500-foot runway just up the street from the new award-winning clubhouse.

"Our goal was threefold,” adds Nieman, whose family opened the course in 1997 and ran it themselves for 16 years. “First, provide employees of the mill a recreational outlet.  Second, create an environment that would attract professionals and new entrepreneurs to Hulett. And finally, establish a golf experience so special that you would pick The Golf Club at Devils Tower as your summer destination.  I think we succeeded on all accounts and, to boot, we carry no debt on the club."

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