NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF
Mark Burnett, President & Chief Operating Officer
Curt McClellan, Chief Financial Officer
Ingrid Keiser, EVP General Counsel
Chuck Feddersen, Executive VP of Golf & Country Clubs
Patrick Droesch, Executive Vice President of Business, Sports & Alumni Clubs
ClubCorp USA holds a dominant place in its field, as the industry leader in the world of private club management.
Founded by Robert Dedman Sr. in 1957 with the construction of Brookhaven Country Club in the company’s headquarters of Dallas, Texas, ClubCorp has grown significantly in the past 60 years. The company today has more than 200 clubs in its portfolio, including 135 private country clubs, spread across 28 states, the District of Columbia and two countries outside the United States.
ClubCorp is nearly twice as large in scope as any other private club operator in the country and former CEO Eric Affeldt, who retired in 2017, oversaw the investment of more than $720 million in its properties during his 10-year tenure.
While golf and memberships are at the heart of the company, ClubCorp’s management influence further extends to an array of high-end business, sport, and alumni/stadium clubs. The impressive cache of influence includes: 3,618 golf holes; more than 800 tennis courts; approximately 20,000 peak-season employees; and over 430,000 individual members.
Annual revenue was $1.1 billion in 2016 and ClubCorp had approximately $2.1 billion in assets as of December 27, 2016.
Among its array of choice golf properties, ClubCorp’s portfolio includes Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, site of the LPGA Tour’s ANA Inspiration (golf’s first major championship of the year) and Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, host of the PGA Tour’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
By the 1970s, ClubCorp was the management consultant for more than 50 clubs and in 1976 started a realty division to develop residential communities around country clubs. Firestone was added to the portfolio in 1981 and the Pinehurst Resort was brought into the fold in 1984. The acquisition of Pinehurst was a significant one for ClubCorp, precipitating a new division within the company for the management of destination golf and conference resorts. When the Dedman family sold ClubCorp in 2006, they retained Pinehurst.
In September 2017, ClubCorp sold to private equity firm Apollo Global Management for a reported $1.1 billion equity value with an enterprise value of $2.2 billion (including the assumption of debt). The buy is a reflection of ClubCorp’s excellence in its field, as the company reportedly raised its revenue by approximately one-third from 2013-2016.
“With the support of the Apollo funds, we continue to build on ClubCorp’s success by providing our members with unrivalled experiences at our clubs and to growing our industry-leading portfolio of clubs,” said Mark Burnett, ClubCorp’s President and COO.
ClubCorp is following the trend of some of the other major management companies in golf: continued growth. A pioneer in the private club industry, ClubCorp has seen its total number of facilities under management increase by almost 59 percent over the past five years, as more country clubs seek to align with this type of operation.
ClubCorp certainly offers a meaningful advantage in the management space, being able to spread costs around and utilize economies of scale. ClubCorp’s deep portfolio of mid-level private clubs features an active membership with a consistent rate of renewal. That’s appealing for a firm like Apollo, with ClubCorp able to generate recurring revenue in the form of monthly club membership dues.
After a humble beginning with one club in Dallas under Dedman, who was once described as the “Henry Ford of the Club Management Business,” ClubCorp evolved into the pre-eminent owner and operator of private clubs, ultimately providing a higher and more consistent level of service for members of its facilities.