Name: John Carson
Job: General manager
Business: Hunter Ranch Golf Course What he said then:
In January 2010, golf courses around the county and the nation were seeing a slump in business.
The number of rounds of golf played in 2009 was down from the previous year, the National Golf Foundation reported.
As a response, many courses were rolling out incentives such as discounts and frequent-player rewards. They were also enhancing marketing efforts to attract individuals and groups.
“People need to feel more confident before they decide to spend money tasting wine and playing golf,” said John Carson, general manager of Hunter Ranch in Paso Robles.
The county’s leading industry, leisure and hospitality, brings more than $1 billion to San Luis Obispo County annually. While there’s no data to show how much golf contributes to that, it is considered a major attraction for visitors.
What he says now:
Rounds played dropped again in 2010, according to the national foundation’s most recent report. And drops of 5.4 percent in California were even deeper than the national count, which was down 2.3 percent from 2009.
But at Hunter Ranch, Carson said that, so far, business is improving in 2011.
“It’s somewhat more upbeat than this time last year,” Carson said. “Although it’s still not where it was four years ago.”
The course hopes to build “family tees” by the end of the year for juniors and families with children.
Earlier this year, Hunter Ranch added a new position: director of marketing and sales. Perry Hallmeyer now oversees all advertising, marketing and social media interaction, including the course’s Facebook account.
“One person dedicated to selling and promoting or marketing is going to do a better job than three or four people who are doing it part time in addition to their other duties,” the general manager added. “We try to market quite heavily to our email list.”
The course typically employs between 40 and 55 people, with seasonal fluctuations, Carson said. It currently has about 50.
Recent increases in business have come mainly in group bookings, weddings, private parties and wine dinners.
“We’re starting to get some more calls for smaller, out-of-town traveling groups that kind of laid low in recent years,” he added. “Most of them are social clubs and golf associations. I haven’t seen a whole lot of business conference groups.”