Up to Par offers marketing and hospitality know-how

Sean Taylor, CEO, Up to Par

Lexington, Va.-based Up to Par manages nearly a dozen hotels and restaurants in two Virginia cities and Sean Taylor, the company’s owner and chief executive officer, says that its expertise in hospitality is “the prime differentiator for our golf division.”

If standalone restaurants can operate in the black, he figures, the food-and-beverage operations at golf courses ought to do so as well. In fact, he claims that every one of his company’s food-and-beverage operations turns a profit.

“This is the mentality we bring to the table,” he said.

Today, Taylor is putting that mentality to use at the five golf properties that Up to Par manages, four of them (two public, two private) in Virginia and the fifth, a resort course, in West Virginia. The company also offers consulting services to ownership groups that prefer to self-manage but occasionally need a shoulder to lean on.

Up to Par’s prime targets are courses that generate at least $1 million in annual revenues. With its proficiency in hospitality services, Taylor believes he can increase revenues at such venues by 4 to 6 percent annually.

“If a course has minimal debt and $1 million or more in revenues, we know we can make it more profitable than it is today,” he said.

 Taylor whetted his appetite for golf management in 1992, when he became the head pro at Duke University Golf Club in Durham, N.C. He later served as the director of golf at Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Fla., and at Wintergreen Resort, outside Charlottesville, Va. He founded Up to Par in 2009, as a sales and marketing company, and in 2011 it began to manage golf properties.

Like its competitors, Up to Par promises to maintain high-quality course conditions, reduce expenses and provide exceptional experiences for club members and daily-fee players. But the trick to turning profits, he says, is to boost revenues. So Up to Par draws on its marketing and hospitality capabilities to generate additional rounds for public golf courses, recruit new members for private clubs, increase restaurant revenues and attract more tournaments, corporate outings and other income-producing events.

In 2017, Up to Par built on the foundation that Taylor laid eight years ago. On the hospitality side, it made its first acquisition, the Sheridan Livery Inn in Lexington, Va., and it launched Taylor Hospitality, through which it now conducts its F&B operations. On the golf side, it began to provide consulting services to Sun City Texas, a multi-course retirement community in greater Austin.

Up to Par made what Taylor views as a key alliance in late 2015, when it inked a long-term management contract on Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club, the centerpiece of a golf community in Gainesville, Va. Heritage Hunt is managed by Chantilly, Va.-based Associa Community Management Corp., a well-known operator of communities owned by homeowners’ associations. Taylor says that Up to Par recently became Associa’s “preferred operator” for both golf and hospitality services, and in coming years he expects to earn many contracts from the company. 

“They took us for a test drive and liked what they saw,” Taylor said. “We see the relationship growing and paying incredible dividends for us.”

As Up to Par grows, Taylor expects to add an equal number golf and hospitality clients in the Eastern United States, primarily in the area that stretches from Pennsylvania to Florida. If all goes as planned, the company will have 33 contracts in its portfolio by 2020 and 45 by 2022.

Up to Par hasn’t closed the door on golf ownership and leasing, but if Taylor is going to make major investments, they’ll most likely be on the hospitality side.

“There’s significantly more stability in hotels,” he pointed out. “People will stay in your hotels if it’s raining, but they won’t go to your golf course.”

 

UP TO PAR PROPERTIES

Ashley Plantation Country Club, Daleville, Va., daily fee, 27 holes

Bryce Resort, Basye, Va., daily fee, 18 holes

Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club, Gainesville, Va., private, 18 holes

Lexington Golf & Country Club, Lexington, Va., private, 18 holes

Raven Golf Club at Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Snowshoe, W.Va., daily fee, 18 holes

 

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