In an effort to increase membership numbers at Northwood Golf Course, the City of Rhinelander golf course commission approved an incentive program for current members to bring in new members during the upcoming season at its March 7 meeting.
At the meeting, golf course professional Dan Buckley said the move was part of an effort to better promote Northwood.
"We need to promote this golf course better than we have been," Buckley said.
He reported his efforts to spread the word about Northwood to people in southern Wisconsin at a trade show in Madison and throughout the midwest at a big show in Chicago recently. He said the show in Madison was not as good as the one in Chicago, which he deemed "unbelievable."
"It was a fantastic show, we know a lot of people there and a lot of people know us," Buckley said. "We ran out of Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce books, AmericInn flyers, the Quality Inn next door, we ran out of their stuff too. We were very well received there."
He said that on March 9, he was to travel to the trade show at Milwaukee, which was the last of the year.
Buckley said that the Northwoods Nordic ski club is done for the year and golf course staff will start getting the building prepared for the start of golf season. He said the earliest he could foresee the course opening would be the third week in April.
"Right now, the course is still 90-percent snow covered," Buckley said at the meeting.
Course superintendent Joe Anderson said he would be hesitant to open any earlier, even if there was a run of warm weather, because late March and early April tend to have fickle weather. He would be concerned with opening and have the course fully staffed only to not have any work for them if the weather turned cold again.
"I think it would have to be awfully beautiful weather to convince me it would be in the best interests to open in the month of March," Anderson said.
Buckley then discussed the promotion to get new members and men's and women's league participants.
"The numbers are down over the past few years, and I kind of threw the question out to our league players last year what kind of incentive can we have to get more people out here? And it came back, maybe give somebody a gift certificate, if you bring in a new member, give them a $50 gift certificate," Buckley said. "If you bring in a new league team, two players, give them a $50 gift certificate."
He said in the pro shop, the $50 certificate would cost $25, and the cost goes down even more if they use the certificate for driving range balls or other services.
"If we bring in a new team, you're looking at $600-700 in fees they're paying over the course of that summer," he said. "And if you bring in a new member, that's anywhere from $500 to $1,000."
Buckley said that the "bounty" would only be for current members who get someone or a team to sign up that were not members last year.
"If you weren't a member last year, we want you," he said.
He said he needed approval for the proposal now because the first membership meetings of the year are in the first week of April and he wanted to announce the program then.
"I know our competitor across town is doing similar things," Buckley said. "And they are pounding us."
He said the certificate would not be good at Mulligan's Restaurant and Pub, but Mulligan's operator Dave O'Melia said he would consider adding some kind of offer of his own to the course's offering.
"What we've done in the past is we offer a $5 lunch and when they spend it, I bring it upstairs and you reimburse me," O'Melia said.
Commission chair Tom Kelly told O'Melia and Buckley to work out the details of any contribution for the restaurant.
The commission approved the incentive by a 5-0 vote.
Jamie Taylor may be reached at jamie@ rivernewsonline.com.
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