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Glen Eagle’s Jared Barnes Featured in Golf Business Magazine
(The following article featuring Utah’s Jared Barnes was published in Golf Business Magazine.)
By David Gould
The going may be tough, but Jared Barnes is playing the hand he’s been dealt
In the words of the late senator Daniel P. Moynihan, “The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence because it’s so rare.” For Jared Barnes and the for-profit golf facility he manages in Syracuse, Utah, that quote doesn’t exactly ring true.
Glen Eagle Golf Course, where Barnes serves as general manager and director of golf, competes in a market known for its sleekly designed and studiously maintained municipal courses. “They don’t pay property tax, and they don’t have a profit motive,” Barnes observes. “They don’t just stand at the counter and sell daily play, either—their merchandising and tournament programs are impressive.”
And, they do it all with a fixed-cost edge. “My estimate is that we start every year with about a $100,000 disadvantage,” he adds. Barnes is a natural teacher and promoter of the game, able to use his energy as a drawing card for new golfers and low-handicappers alike. The target for rounds at Glen Eagle is 30,000 annually, a volume of business the course has been close to in recent years, despite a series of cold, wet, dismal spring seasons. The graceful and linksy par-72 he’s marketing looks better than its $41 (cart included) weekend rate, but the municipal competition has Glen Eagle boxed in. “If I raised my rates above theirs, I’d lose business,” says Barnes, winner of the 2010 Utah PGA Golf Professional of the Year award.
Not being connected to municipal government doesn’t stop Glen Eagle from making itself the home base for the local high school golf team. With enthusiastic support from Barnes and his staff, the Davis High School Darts—both the boys’ and girls’ teams—have been dominant for years in statewide competition. “A lot of courses where high school teams practice and play matches, their presence is more or less tolerated,” Barnes notes. “At our golf course, they’re encouraged and supported. They know we want them around, and I think that’s contributed to the program’s great success.”
Meanwhile, the halo effect of this treatment is continued loyalty after graduation, on the players’ part as well as noticeable response from parents and friends. “They tend to bring their social golf and their business golf to our course, knowing we’ve supported their kids’ development,” Barnes says.That kind of support is important, particularly given the tough weather conditions of recent vintage. One lousy spring is to be expected—three straight is a backbreaker.
“The golf interest is there,” Barnes says. “When good weather finally comes, we hit our per-month targets pretty well. But at year’s end, these wiped-out Aprils and Mays are very evident in the numbers.” Woes in the real estate market have put a strain on the residential development Glen Eagle is connected to, although the course’s profit-and-loss is separate from it. Homeowners who play golf are discretionary customers of the course—golf memberships aren’t packaged into the real estate purchase. “We have to hustle to attract and retain any customer,” Barnes says. Though Mother Nature and the government have been working against him, Barnes plans to keep hustling and see where it brings him.
David Gould is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Golf Business.