VANCOUVER — Two highly acclaimed golf courses in the B.C. Interior, each of which has faced financial challenges since opening, are joining forces to market their facilities.
Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club near Merritt and Tobiano Golf Course in Kamloops are offering a $275 package that includes a mid-week day of unlimited golf (including power cart) and lunch at each course.
Sagebrush general manager Don Harvey said that many golfers are under the mistaken impression that Sagebrush is exclusively private. He is trying to get the word out that visitors are welcome.
“Sagebrush has only done word of mouth marketing,” Harvey said. “We have never done any advertising and we believe that message through that word of mouth has not been what we wanted it to be.
“The message from us is that until our membership is fully subscribed there are opportunities for non-members to come out and try Sagebrush. I think the perception out there is that you just can’t get on to play Sagebrush if you are not a member. In a nutshell, we are wΩtrying to do some awareness-building.”
That $275 package, which is expected to be available for the remainder of the summer, means Sagebrush is offering its product at a steep discount. Normally, a day of unlimited golf at Sagebrush goes for $300.
Tobiano’s regular green fee for unlimited play normally is $180. Its regular peak-season 18-hole rate ranges between $90 and $130.
Both Sagebrush and Tobiano, which are located a little over an hour from one another, have received accolades since opening. Sagebrush, a Dick Zokol-Rod Whitman design that opened in 2009, recently was ranked 85th in Golf Digest’s list of the top 100 courses outside the U.S.
Tobiano, a Thomas McBroom design, opened in 2007 and was ranked No. 5 in ScoreGolf magazine’s recently published list of the top 59 public courses in Canada.
But both courses have faced financial challenges. Sagebrush has had trouble selling memberships and has operated at a loss since opening. Zokol no longer is affiliated with the club and now is executive director of golf development at Predator Ridge near Vernon.
The Tobiano resort was placed in receivership two years ago, but the course was recently purchased by original Tobiano founder Mike Grenier and two partners.
“Both golf courses have achieved very significant awards and favourable reviews so we thought from a recognition perspective that this was probably a pretty good fit,” Grenier said. “The other thing I thought was interesting was the contrast between Sagebrush and Tobiano. It is always interesting when you play two different types of courses instead of two similar types of courses. I thought that would be of interest to British Columbia golfers.”
Grenier said the early response to the promotion has been positive.
“I would say we are having more response to this promotion than just about anything we have done in a short period of time,” Grenier said.
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Merritt’s Roger Sloan and Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford will be back on the Web.com Tour this week after taking last week off. Sloan got married on Saturday and Hadwin attended the ceremony, which took place on Tobiano’s 15th hole.
Sloan has some work to do to secure his spot in the Web.com Tour playoffs, which begin Aug. 29.
With just two regular-season events remaining — this week’s stop in Knoxville and next week’s tourney in Omaha — Sloan stands 86th on the money list. He needs to move into the top 75 to qualify for the season’s final four events, where 50 PGA Tour cards for 2014 will be up for grabs. Hadwin currently stands 63rd on the money list.