Nancy and Bruce Maness are the co-owners of the South Forty Golf Course and Driving Range in Cortez, Colorado.
Nancy and Bruce Maness on the importance of finding ways to make your facility as efficient as possible:
23 years ago, after selling our dairy cows, Bruce started building a driving range on our property. Eventually, with the help of the range income, a golf course was added. Since we couldn’t afford to hire people to help run the business, Bruce made the range and course self-service, allowing him to perform many other facility functions. To accomplish that, he first retrofitted the driving range ball dispenser with a dollar reader. That way, anyone with two $1 bills (or a token) could get a half-bucket of balls. We also have various specials that encourage golfers to save money and buy ahead so they can access the dispenser without having to bring one dollar bills. For the course, we set up a system whereby a golfer could sign a log, put their money into an envelope with their name and number from the sign-in sheet, and put it into a fee box. This way, we could run the range and course with only two occasional volunteers. Additionally, Bruce – someone who always finds a way to get something done or built – attached a ball picker to the front of his Park Master. That way he, or a volunteer, could pick up balls and cut the range at the same time.
Nancy and Bruce Maness on the business impact of finding ways to make your facility as efficient as possible:
We decided that as long as the range and course paid for themselves, we would stay open. It continues to do so, even though we made less than $40,000 last year (before expenses). So what’s the secret? It is Bruce’s work ethic and efficiency, dependable volunteers, and a unique sense of community that keeps us going. Patrons sometimes even react to ensure that people don’t just “forget to pay.” We’ve had cases of golfers either paying for customers that they suspect did not pay for their round or calling us if they see something suspicious. There are even those that proactively pay extra to say “Thank You” and to ensure we stay in business. When we’re away, we have a volunteer that is connected to the business phone and is available if a machine breaks down or if a golfer needs something from an attendant, like a cart or tokens. Additionally, before the pandemic, we would put clubs out in an old milk can for golfers to use while on the range. Travelers that don’t bring their own equipment, and those that are just learning the game, really appreciate the convenience of having clubs easily available. We also have an old farm equipment placed on the range that acts as a large, but challenging, target. Since we are a small informal self-service facility, we don’t have a dress code. Finally, we are pet friendly. We actually encourage people to bring dogs to the course as long as they are “well behaved.” This is a rule that many retirees and dog lovers appreciate, as they don’t have to leave their pets at home or in the motel room. Encouraging a community, based on trust and friendship, has facilitated an enjoyable experience for everyone.
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