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Charbonneau Golf Club attempts to thrive in a struggling industry

New president thinks Charbonneau Golf Club holds a recipe for sustainable success.


Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A man attempting a chip shot at Charbonneau Golf Club.

Due to millennial disinterest, economic woes and stagnated course construction, it’s a nervy time to be in the golf business.

However, according to recently elected president Dale Owen, Charbonneau Golf Club is positioning itself to buck that trend through sheer monetary prudence and customer awareness.

“Our business is not dropping at a drastic rate like other courses because we cater to our customers,” Owen said.

Instead of forcing upon customers the traditional 18-hole, five-hour time-commitment, the club has three nine hole courses. Customers can play nine, 18 or even 27 holes if they desire. Also, the courses have zero par fives, increasing round expediency.

“People that want to spend every Saturday morning playing golf for five hours are going away,’ Owen said.

He also believes the courses are attractive because they cater to a wide range of skill levels.

“It’s user friendly, so the best golfer and the beginner can play. We are dedicated to having a great golf experience for all skill levels. These type of courses are doing better than the big, expensive courses in this area and all over the country,” Owen said.

The board has also stopped wasting resources such as water and fertilizer.

“Our fertilizing program and spraying program keep the course in the quality that it is without wasting water and fertilizer,” Owen said.

In order to draw in youth to the course, the club started a weeklong camp for junior golfers to sniff the grassy aroma, take in golf’s aesthetic beauty and develop a love for the game.

“We’re packed with young people during that week. We ask juniors after the camp if they got anything out of it and they’re all ecstatic about it,” Owen said.

At Charbonneau, ideas are uncorked and instigated by a group of unpaid, but willing volunteers.

“The board is made up of dedicated people that give endless hours to the success of the business,” Owen said.

The board disperses duties to planning, financial and business development committees to spearhead projects such as the removal of obtrusive geese earlier this year.

“The course was non-playable because of the geese. We had hundreds of geese at times because we’re on the geese flight pattern. The amount of waste that they leave is two to three pounds a day. It was a health hazard for everyone to be around that. Plus, the noise was distracting,” Owen said.

However, they hired a “geese guy” to “patrol” the premises and extricate pesky geese.

Now that the geese problem is solved, the board is working on expanding food and beverage options.

“We’re looking into offering a grill service with tables inside that offers a little more than just hamburgers and hot dogs. We want it to serve as a community meeting area,” Owen said.

Owen was elected president after one year on the board and succeeded Jim Gibbons, who was president from 2012-14. Prior to moving to Charbonneau, Owen worked in Redmond and Albany for 40 years selling turf equipment and farm equipment. Owen thinks he was elected because of his business and golf course experience.

“I have over 40 years of business experience,” Owen said. He added: “I bring some experience in terms of grass care. I have a golf course background and worked with golf courses a lot.”

The board also added seven-year member Randy McCauley, Elaine Swyt and Bob Wiese to its group of decision makers.

Owen said the golf industry will never flourish like it did 20 years ago, but courses like Charbonneau with strong local ties that provide high value services are here to stay.



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