There was a time not too
many years ago when new golf courses were sprouting up all over the region,
public and private.
I can recall writing round-up
stories in the Philadelphia Inquirer
about the half-dozen or so courses that would be in various stages of planning,
construction or their first year of operation.
How many courses have opened
in 2010? One.
That course is Applecross CC in Downingtown, sister
course to Talamore CC in
Ambler, which the owners, the Talamore Group,
are promoting as a 2-for-1 membership.
"If there is a better deal in
town, I’d like to know what it is," said Jon
Hazelwood, general manager of both clubs.
Given the laws of supply and
which opened July 1, could be it the last new course in the area for a while.
even further, bluntly predicting, "Applecross will probably be the last new golf course built
in the state of Pennsylvania.
There is no reason for there to be another one, unless the game of golf
Good point. Rather than grand openings, the talk in
most grill rooms these days are rumors about what courses and clubs are barely
hanging on or facing mergers or outright closure.
Why, then, did the Talamore Group, open Applecross?
Because he thought he could make
a go of it even in the down golf economy.
"The courses complement one
another – the courses and the distance between them," said Hazelwood. "Applecross
was a great product to add to the products we already had. But to think it’s
not going to be a grind is very naive."
In 2005, when Applecross CC was first envisioned as the
centerpiece of an upscale residential development by the Pulte Group, the Talamore Group
wanted to develop the country club component. It lost out to ClubCorp,
at the time a big privately-held Dallas-based club management company. In 2006, ClubCorp sold off everything except the Pinehurst
Resort to private-held equity firm, KSL Capital Parnters.
"Well, apparently Applecross wasn’t
a good fit for KSL," said Hazelwood. In 2009, the Talamore Group
was back in the picture.
Any regrets, considering the
"No," said Hazelwood. "Once we got involved, it was full steam ahead. If you’re not going to go full steam
ahead, then don’t get involved."
So far, said Hazelwood, the toughest part of
is getting potential members to appreciate and understand the 2-for-1
membership – 4-for-1, if you include two more sister courses in
Pinehurst, Talamore Resort
and the Mid South Club.
"The concept of multi-club memberships
is very new to this area," said Hazelwood. "You have Philly Cricket with two
courses, but I don’t know of anybody else who has two different facilities."
A Tier 1 full golf
membership is a $12,500 refundable deposit with various incentive plans; annual
dues are $2,995. Like most clubs
in the area, those numbers are down from years past ($4,200 in 2009, $5,200 in
So far, Applecross has about 115 full
golf members and another 200 or so social members. Talamore
has 300 golf members. The goal is
for each to have 350 full golf members.
"We’re getting there," said Hazelwood. "We’re continuing to grow, weathering the storm. I can tell you that in the times we are
in, it could be worse."