Granite Pointe president Barry Auliffe addresses members during the golf course’s annual general meeting Wednesday. Photo: Tyler Harper

Granite Pointe changes course

The board revealed several changes at its AGM

What happens over the next year will have a long-term impact on the state of Nelson’s golf course.

Granite Pointe’s board of directors revealed Wednesday at their annual general meeting that the course is undergoing several major changes behind the scenes meant to restore the 97-year-old club.

Financial statements reveal the course suffered a net loss of $39,912 in 2016, although that’s mitigated by a recorded $36,936 in amortization of clubhouse and administration expenses. The actual loss then is only $2,976.

Still, that isn’t ideal for a club that’s been struggling for years to stay in good financial health. But new president Barry Auliffe is hoping a series of investments will change Granite Pointe’s fortunes. That, he said, is a reversal from the mindset of previous boards.

“I think we were pulling back to see how far back you can cut and still run a viable golf course,” said Auliffe, who took over as president last October. “Like having a three-day-a-week pro. I was doing the marketing and communications. We were doing the administration. We never had this discussion, ‘how far can we pull back and still have a viable operation?’

“What we learned is we just can’t go back. If you’re going to do it, you’re in for a penny, in for a pound. We’ll learn a lot this year.”

The course has once again raised membership rates for this season after a previous campaign to lower rates failed to draw in new golfers, leading to a drop of $14,236 in membership fees last year. Those rates are expected to now rise slightly every year.

Auliffe said right now the focus is on holding membership steady while promoting what the board refers to as green fees, or deals meant to encourage drop-in golf, that are hoped to attract younger visitors. There’s evidence that approach is working — Granite Pointe recorded a $37,651 increase in green fees last year.

The money the course did make is being re-invested by the board, who hired new general manager David Belling in March and have bought new grounds keeping equipment.

Changes are also being made to the clubhouse.

Adventure Hotel had previously run the food and beverage service for four years, but declined to renew their contract in the off-season. That means the clubhouse is now being run by Belling, who has had to hire all-new staff and invest in kitchen equipment.

But the unexpected hurdle might pay off for the course, which is focusing on marketing the restaurant to Rosemont residents. The AGM, for example, happened to be held during a very loud and busy wings night in the clubhouse.

“We’re sticking out necks out here,” said Auliffe. “Taking on the food service, I don’t know what the alternative is. We have to do it. We’ve decided to upgrade the facility. We could have gone back to a hamburger stand but we decide to offer a full food service, which our members want.”

Auliffe credited Belling with bringing back a level of professionalism to the golf course.

“When you came into that parking lot last year there was backroom staff, I don’t know what they did. It wasn’t apparent. It was a mess,” he said.

“When I come in now, there will be a staff person in a uniform, they’ll bring my clubs up, they’ll load them in a cart. It’s professional on the range. There’s all new carpets. There’s all new balls that are sponsored. The carts are cleaned. They go through in rotation. When we do a tournament, David knows how to organize a tournament. Everything is tight. We’ve increased the whole level of the operation.”

Auliffe said he was hopeful the work being done improves the health of Granite Pointe.

“I never planned to become president of the golf club, but every night I wake up at four or five in the morning and just worry about everything. I’m very hopeful. But if I look trepidatious, it’s the weight of the responsibility.”