The Buffalo News reported on Friday the 26th that Westwood Country Club would be sold to one of three bidders. After 66 years of independent existence, the completely-private club will fall to new ownership. It is time for that new ownership to try a business plan that has yet to be exhibited in western New York golf: semi-private status.
I don’t profess to know all there is to know about running a golf course, so I’ll present this option quite succinctly: public access from Tuesday to Thursday, private restriction from Friday to Monday. Limited tee times should be sold to the general, paying public from Tuesday to Thursday. Gap them at 12 minutes to give a true, private-club feel to folks used to being shoehorned to the first tee every 7-8 minutes. Any unsold tee times are then made available to the private membership 24 hours prior. No walk-ups allowed, no calls the “day of” to get a tee time. Something different.
From Friday to Monday, the course is closed to the public. The weekend is the hot time for private members to use their facility. Nine and dine on Fridays, club events and kids’ pool days on Saturdays and Sundays…it’s tradition. Mondays have options. Used to be that Mondays were holy days at country clubs, with the course closed to all but employees, while the grounds crew and superintendent assessed repairs, treatments and upkeep. Then, with financial losses from competition by other clubs and other entertainment sources, private clubs began opening their gates to charity events. Now, it’s not uncommon to see charity events Fridays through Mondays (albeit not any one week) during the golf season.
Guarantee the membership that only one of the four days will be used for outside tournament play, and only half that day at worst, most weekends. Run a morning or afternoon shotgun tournament to generate income and expose the club to charity event participants.
Westwood is a decent club course, not overly challenging but certainly quite interesting and well kept. If private-club conditioning is preserved, a greens fee in the neighborhood of $45 with cart could be charged to golfers who would appreciate a high-end experience less than five minutes from the Buffalo Beltway (the I90-I290-I190 concourse) three days a week.