The Business of Golf Business
Washington Golf Monthly
When Jeff Fleishman graduated from the University of North Carolina, he felt he had two options. As he puts it, he could spend all his time and money "not becoming the next Curtis Strange on the mini-tours" or he could get a job somewhere in the golf industry. He chose the latter, and 25 years later he is helping people successfully make the same decision.
As the President of Golf Business Advisors, Fleishman is now helping newcomers in understanding the marketing and business side of the nation's biggest booming pastime.
Having spent 17 years in golf management, marketing and resorts operations at Kingsmill on the James in Williamsburg, the former Tar Heel golfer learned what it takes to build and operate a successful golf and resort operation.
"We get tons of calls every month," says Fleishman from his Williamsburg, VA office. "Everybody has a dream or idea of getting out of what they are doing and getting into the golf business. Our core business is developing and implementing comprehensive marketing and membership plans for golf course owners. We also help prospective owners make decisions on whether it would be profitable for them to develop a course in the area that they select. Plus we do some course brokerage, and with the addition of Beverly Cutchins as Vice President in 1998, we now offer spa and fitness consulting services."
Fleishman started his own company in 1992 and one of his first clients was Matrix Golf & Hospitality, part of a diverse development company with a portfolio that includes daily fee and private courses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. The two groups formed a partnership, and Golf Business Advisors is now continually involved with the eight courses Matrix owns and operates.
Since then, the company has worked with other golf businesses throughout the Middle Atlantic and as far away as New York, Florida, Wisconsin and Oregon. Clients for 2000 include such notable golf course properties as Bear Trap Dunes in Bethany Beach, DE, and The Golden Horseshoe in Williamsburg. Other golf-related ventures in the fold are Teetimes.com based in Williamsburg, the VSGA Golf Center in Richmond, the city of Stony Point, NY, and the FOM Golf Society based in Potomac, MD. Some of Fleishman's most recent accomplishments include the sales transaction of Williamsburg National Golf Club and the subcontracting of Tom Clark of Ault, Clark & Associates and Strange as course architects for the complete renovation of Bide-A-Wee Golf Club in the City of Portsmouth.
As for new clients, Golf Business Advisors can help set up membership programs from scratch or give existing ones a shot in the arm. It can also set up plans for marketing, public relations and special events. Market feasibility studies are also a big part of the business along with creating various developmental and operational strategies.
"We keep pretty busy," says Fleishman. "So far it's been a lot of fun and very fulfilling. There have been a lot of times where we've been able to prevent a client from making some expensive mistakes. And we've also been able to help most of our clients increase their profits by making the cash register jingle."
Despite his busy schedule, Fleishman hasn't abandoned his own game. He still plays to a 3 handicap and competes in Virginia State Golf Association events and other invitational tournaments in Virginia. He also spends some of his off time volunteering time back to the game. He served as VSGA President from 1991 - 92, has been a USGA Sectional Affairs Committee member since 1989 and is vice president of the Middle Atlantic Golf Association.