The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 5
Unlikely owner rescues course from closure
"I just hated to see that happen"
By Jim Dunlap
hen rumors began floating around his beloved Pinewood Golf Club that the club might be sold for another use, former Shell Oil petroleum engineer and regular
golfer Chris Smith began to feel that his retirement might be
short-lived. When the word spread that the city of Slidell, La.
was going to buy it and turn it into storm water retention ponds,
Smith knew his retiree days were over.
"I just hated to see that happen," Smith said. "I'd been raised
on the course and it was just part of the community." Fortunately
well off thanks to his Shell Oil career and a substantial retirement
plan, Smith was able to write a check to the Pinewood ownership
group for $850,000 and secure the golf course and driving range
free and clear.
"There was a fellow running his catering business out of the
clubhouse restaurant and he had produced an offer to the stockholders which was not enough for the whole club," Smith said. "I
said I didn't want the clubhouse and the restaurant, so I bought
the course and driving range and he bought the clubhouse and
restaurant. I lease the pro shop space from him, and I also got the
golf cart and maintenance barn. There's also a former teaching
room which the head pro wasn't using, so I may turn that into
sort of a beer garden where people can relax after hitting balls."
The holding company formed by Smith and his wife took over
the course officially in December 2017. One of the first things
Smith did was to contact Harvey Silverman, a principal with
pay-by-the-hole program Quick.Golf whom he'd been speaking
with after seeing some information on the pay-per-hole concept
on the Internet months earlier. Smith immediately signed up to
offer Quick.Golf at his newly purchased club.
"We'd been talking for at least six months, after I saw something about it and contacted Harvey," Smith said. "We have a
fairly tight course, with homes all around it, and the way it's laid
out, it's perfect for something like Quick.Golf. You can play 3
or 4 hole loops in a couple of places and not have to pay for 9
holes, and you can walk if you like. It's a no-lose situation, and I
really hope it catches on. My little course can use even one extra
golfer. The way I do it is if they're playing less than 9 holes, they
play Quick Golf, but if they're playing more than 9, they pay the
9-hole rate for the first 9 and then play the rest at the Quick
Golf rate. That way they're not getting charged for holes they
A glimpse at the Pinewood ownership structure will give one
some idea why Smith was so quick to become an early adopter
of something like Quick.Golf. Smith and his wife Karen have
formed one holding company to purchase the golf course and
retain all rights to the course, its 95 acres and the driving range.
Simple enough, right? The Smiths formed another holding comwww.PellucidCorp.com
Chris and Karen Smith
pany, however, consisting of the club's golf pro and 8 friends who
became "investors." Smith calls that group the "operating company." For their investment, which Smith did not disclose, the operating group investors and their friends and family get free golf.
Although they are not guaranteed any return on their investment
other than the golf course play, Smith said they will share in any
operating profit. In return, Smith uses the investment funding for
"seed money" to make improvements to the course.
Smith, who characterizes himself as "anything but a golf
course owner," is prone to poking fun at himself and the down
home nature of his semi-private club. For instance, the "operating
company" is named the Chris & Ted Golf Operating Company
for Smith and head pro Ted Elliot. Smith notes that it "sounds
like Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."
The club's 95 acres (more about that in a moment) are bounded closely by homes, and Smith spends considerable time thinking of ways to increase his neighbors' involvement in the course
and club, whether they play golf or not. He came up with a $15
per month "Supporting Membership" that provides some access
to club activities but is basically a contribution. As Smith notes,
"If nothing else, it's like paying $15 a month and getting your
back yard mowed for free."
Now, about that 95 acres that was part of what Smith purchased. While he is genuinely hopeful that he'll be able to keep
Pinewood self supporting if not profitable, Smith is confident
that there is a safe financial landing built into all that centrally
located (and residentially zoned) real estate.
"If I can just break even, I'm OK because I don't need to make
money on the golf course," Smith said. "If I can't make it work, I
can always build on the property, but I don't want to do that. I'd
rather keep this course alive."
An Excellent Adventure indeed!
The Pellucid PersPecTive
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018
More munis embrace golf “rationalization”
Unlikely owner rescues course from closure
Toptracer bringing revenue within range
Gleneagles operator turns course into life changer
February golf weather impact: Double-digit decline continues
hilly course operators not flying high
Slow play no cause for no play
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - TOC
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - More munis embrace golf “rationalization”
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 3
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 4
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - Unlikely owner rescues course from closure
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - Toptracer bringing revenue within range
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 7
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - Gleneagles operator turns course into life changer
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 9
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 10
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - February golf weather impact: Double-digit decline continues
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 12
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 13
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - hilly course operators not flying high
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - 15
The Pellucid Perspective - March 2018 - Slow play no cause for no play