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The evolution at Foxtail Golf Course

Friday, February 8th, 2013 | Posted by

Foxtail Golf Course General Manager Brad Dutler and Marketing Manager Kelly Scullion stand at the wedding gazebo at the golf course. (Scott Manchester/Press Democrat)

By NICK WALDEN / Rohnert Park and Cotati Correspondent

Foxtail Golf Club is poised to become more than just a place to play 18 holes. If things to as planned, the Rohnert Park fixture could become a community hub, or a place to go where everyone knows your name.

“The potential that it has is exciting,” said Brad Dutler, the club’s general manager. “There are lots of ways to implement and change things over the next year or two.”

Dutler, who has been with Foxtail for the last 18 months, wants to broaden the club’s appeal. He plans to get involved with and host activities that reach larger audiences within the community, even if they don’t produce revenue.

“Golf has its challenges,” he explained. “Participation stays flat because as many people start each year as quit.”

Dutler has his work cut out for him. When the Rohnert Park City Council renewed the club’s lease in October for another 20 years, it was only by a slim margin. Citing a $4 million dollar loss since 2001, Petaluma golf course management company CourseCo, Inc., negotiated a lower annual rent for the property.

Now CourseCo’s challenge is to increase Foxtail’s overall revenue during next few years to make that lease deal profitable for both parties.

Dutler’s challenge is to make that happen. By appealing to a more diverse group of users, he hopes to generate additional interest in the facilities.

Biggest Loser – Foxtail Edition is one recent example. Through May 6, the club is sponsoring a weight loss competition that mirrors NBC’s “TheBiggest Loser,” with weekly weigh-ins and a $50 buy-in that forms a prize pool for weekly and overall winners.

The program is designed to draw a diverse crowd of people who might not otherwise come.

“We have one gentleman who works at the River Rock Casino who came all the way down here just for the Biggest Loser event,” said Kelly Scullion, the club’s tournament sales manager.

In the case of the Biggest Loser, Foxtail is using its facility as a centralized location for community weigh-ins and meetings. The program is run by Pete Peleti of MilitaryFitNow, who also offers participants special prices for his Boot Camp exercise classes. Sign up through Feb. 25 at playfoxtail.com or (808) 777-8600.

Dutler envisions positive word of mouth advertising as a way to create additional interest. Like many other service based businesses, he said, people tend to go where they enjoy themselves and see value.

Other examples include Foxtail’s recent Super Bowl Day Tournament, which combined morning golf with an afternoon Super Bowl party in the pub. Others will find similar ways to draw people to the facility, where they can experience the relaxed atmosphere and quality service Dutler and his staff hope to provide.

“We are looking to add four to eight well-planned events this year,” said Scullion.

Foxtail is in discussions with local firefighters and the Police Officer’s Association for fundraising events. It also is considering bringing back its summer “Music on the Green” program to offer an outdoor music venue.

“We want to do a few events really well initially that people can be excited for and then look to expand with a new idea or two each year afterwards,” Dutler said.

Along with the 36-hole course that hosts regular tournaments, a pro shop and a pub, Foxtail features a banquet room that each year is the site of 90 to 100 weddings, workshops, chamber meetings, baby showers and even high school proms.

Dutler and his staff will try to expand those kinds of bookings by reaching out further into the community.

Residents in the D, H and F sections of Rohnert Park who live near the course also treat it like de facto open space once golfers have left the fairways. Although not authorized to do so by Foxtail, people take walks on the cart paths, and from time to time, holiday football games break out on the rough.

Scullion and her mother live along the course, she said, and sometimes use it as a shortcut because walking through the course is faster than on surface streets, but “for the most part our concern is safety,” said Dutler. “It is a golf course and we don’t want people being hit by balls.”

Both Dutler and Scullion agree that the people and atmosphere make Foxtail what it is. Scullion worked at the course from 1991 to 1998 before returning last year, and said she has known some of the people there since they were kids.

“Everyone knows your name. I love that this place instills values with the kids. I am passionate about this place (because) it’s my home.”

For more information about upcoming events and tournaments, visit Playfoxtail.com or call 584-7766. The course is located at 100 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park.

Nick Walden is the Rohnert Park and Cotati Towns correspondent.You can reach him at rparktowns@gmail.com.

 

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Nick Walden is our Rohnert Park + Cotati correspondent.
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