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Category:  Press » Recreation & Sports

 

Carolina Trail courses mostly out of the economic rough

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2010-04-05 06:16:15     
Katie Bridger

Though Jeff Silverstein, chairman of the IRI Golf Group, thinks the toughest days may still be ahead for the economy-rattled golf industry, the seven Charlotte-area courses his company operates are looking at better days.

Silverstein's company owns and operates the Carolina Trail courses including Birkdale Golf Club, Charlotte Golf Links, The Divide Golf Club, The Tradition Golf Club, Highland Creek Golf Club, Skybrook Golf Club and Waterford Golf Club, among the most popular daily-fee courses in the region.

After struggling with the difficult economy and serious debt issues, IRI announced this weekend it has recapitalized and modified its debt agreement with Textron Financial, allowing for an aggressive upgrading program.

"We were having significant issues," Silverstein said. "This gives us capital we can put back into the operation to recapture the momentum we had when we started the Carolina Trail."

Silverstein called the past 18 months "devastating" for the golf industry, which has been forced to deal with a glut of courses and the recession, which has led to a decline in revenue. Throw in a difficult winter throughout the south, and Silverstein said his company has seen a 30 percent decline in revenue.

With new money available, Silverstein said projects are already underway to enhance area courses. Everything is being evaluated, he said. Bunkers will be improved, mowing patterns will be adjusted, facilities are being painted, course maintenance is being upgraded and employee interaction with customers will be emphasized.

"We're starting over," Silverstein said. "I think people will see a general improvement in quality. We had to cut back to try to survive."

IRI Golf operates 20 courses across the country and has headquarters in Charlotte and San Diego. Silverstein said the growing emphasis in the Carolinas may lead to an expanded headquarters in Charlotte.

With seven Charlotte-area courses, Silverstein said the plan is to structure them at different price points. Birkdale, for example, will be a higher-priced course than some others with a price point around $65.

Silverstein said he's also interested in revitalizing Charlotte Golf Links, one of the early designs by Tom Doak, now one of the world's most prominent designers.

"We think we can take (Charlotte Golf Links) to the next level," Silverstein said.

Specialized in: Golf Management - Golf Course Management - Management Company - Golf Management Companies - Golf Course Management Company - Golf Course Management Companies - Golf Course Consulting - Golf Consulting - Golf Club Operations - Golf Operations - Golf Course Marketing - Golf Marketing - Professional Golf Services - Golf Services - Professional Golf Management - Golf Course Development - Municipal Golf Course Management - Municipal Golf Management - Daily Fee Golf
URL: http://www.irigolfgroup.com
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