Two Central Virginia golf course management firms have teamed up to expand their reach.
Mike Hatch and his Richmond-based Acumen Golf Consulting, which owns Birkdale Golf Club and Brandermill Golf Club, is working with Affinity Management of Charlottesville in a bid to pick up management contracts for more out-of-town courses.
The two sides struck a deal last month and have already landed management deals for three courses in Wisconsin.
Hatch, a native of England, bought Birkdale eight years ago and has owned Brandermill for four years. Busy running the two Chesterfield courses, which bring in about $4.5 million a year in revenue from 65,000 rounds of golf each year, Hatch’s connections in the industry keep inquiries from course owners coming in.
“I kept getting calls to do work further afield,” said Hatch, 39. “But because I’m at my clubs so often, I don’t have time to go up there as much as I would need to.”
Affinity, founded in 1997, is larger than Acumen and has more manpower and a bigger geographical reach.
“Together we quickly picked up a couple of contracts and are looking to do some stuff together elsewhere. We will go after some bigger contracts together,” Hatch said.
Depending on the course and the location, the two sides share management fees and typically get a share of the revenue from courses.
“He wants to put his contacts in good hands,” said Damon DeVito, managing director at Affinity. “That’s where we come in. We don’t have any geographic barriers.”
In addition to the two courses it owns, Acumen also manages Gordon Trent Golf Course in Southwest Virginia, Windy Hill off Midlothian Turnpike and others.
Affinity manages just under a dozen courses, although it doesn’t share the names of its clients. It also owns Ferncroft Country Club in Massachusetts and is part owner of Stoneleigh Golf Club in Northern Virginia.
The teaming of the two companies was born largely out of the hard times the golf industry has experienced in recent years.
“With the economy, the oversupply of courses and what it’s doing to course owners – it’s a big part of what drove this relationship,” DeVito said.
The courses they manage typically have absentee owners and – these days – are often coming out of bankruptcy or foreclosure. Two of the three courses they are managing in Wisconsin had been bought out of foreclosure.
At least two of the courses Acumen manages had fallen on hard times prior to the company taking them over.
“In the past, if a course was being run inefficiently, they might make less money,” DeVito said. “Now, when things are down and banks are less patient, if you’re not performing well it could be the difference in keeping current on your loan and keeping your facility.”