Bloom Golf Management takes over Heron Lakes

Will a recent acquisition spark a phase of growth for Russ Bloom’s tiny management company?

Bloom Golf Management, a firm with just one property to its name, doubled the size of its portfolio in late 2017 when it effectively assumed ownership of the struggling Heron Lakes Country Club in Mobile, Ala.

Heron Lakes had been losing members for years and was on the verge of declaring for bankruptcy protection, but Bloom views it as a diamond in the rough – a full-service club with long-established ties to its community, golf facilities comparable to any in the area and a 46,000-square-foot clubhouse with a large banquet space. After a thorough revitalization, he expects it to become one of Mobile’s top options for weddings, meetings and other special events.

“Heron Lakes has an unbelievable building and a great golf course,” he said. “Despite being in poor condition, it’s easy to see that it could be an absolute home run.”

The acquisition caught the attention of C. A. Roberts, the president of OB Sports. Roberts and Bloom know each other well, because Bloom had for years been the general manager of The Oaks Golf Club, a former OB Sports facility in Pass Christian, Miss. Roberts was wondering if Bloom might consider submitting a proposal, in partnership with OB Sports, to operate Atchafalaya Golf Course at Idlewild, a money-losing municipal track in Patterson, La. Bloom’s answer was yes, and the partners expect to learn the outcome in early 2018. 

The way Bloom sees it, the venture in Louisiana might be the beginning of a relationship that could benefit both companies. On the one hand, Bloom Golf has local knowledge but lacks OB Sports’ reputation, buying power and marketing resources. On the other, OB Sports is an expansion-minded firm whose nearly 60 properties are located primarily in western U.S. states. With a trusted partner, it could establish a presence across the Gulf Coast and into the Southeast.

“It would be a great fit for both of us,” Bloom noted.

Bloom Golf was founded in 2014, when Bloom formed an investment group and bought the Oaks from an affiliate of Pacific Life Insurance Company. The Oaks and Heron Lakes are located roughly an hour’s drive from each other, and Bloom figures that ample opportunities await within a three- to four-hour drive of Pass Christian.

“We’re pretty consumed at the moment with the renovation we’re doing at Heron Lakes, but we definitely want to grow,” he said.

In particular, Bloom is looking to buy, manage or provide consulting services to properties such as Heron Lakes – under-performing high-end venues, either public or private, that can become profitable with capital investments and effective marketing.

Bloom played college golf at San Diego State University and had a stint as a touring professional. Like his competitors, he believes that the key to successful golf management is to offer an outstanding golf experience to golfers of all abilities, beginning from the moment a customer arrives at a facility.

“Ultimately, it’s all about the golf course, which has to be in great shape,” he explained. “You also have to be super-efficient in everything you do, sell your product effectively and have great people in key positions.”

Bloom is still far from being a major player in golf management, but he’s planted seeds that he hopes will eventually blossom.



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