Meadowbrook Golf focused on maintenance, only 2 full management courses in portfolio

IGM division handles maintenance for 26 18-hole equivalent courses

By Hil Anderson

Meadowbrook Golf, once one of the largest golf course management companies in the U.S. with more than 50 courses, today only manages two 18-hole equivalent courses. The company says it is focused on growing its International Golf Maintenance (IGM) division, which focuses on turf maintenance contracts, and Golf Ventures, its supply division.

Executives at the company said it has focused on the bottom line instead of size during the past 20 years, and that it continues to innovate when it comes to processes and technology for is maintenance clients. 

Bill Stine founded Meadowbrook and was at the helm as it grew into the third largest management company in the U.S. with 57 courses. He also co-founded IGM as a division of Meadowbrook in 1994, which handled agronomy for as many as 40 courses at one time.

Apollo Investment took an ownership stake in Meadowbrook in the late 1990s and Stine departed the company in 2000. Ron Jackson has been president and CEO since 2001.

Today, IGM maintains 26 18-hole equivalent courses, according to the company’s website. 

“The market has become incredibly competitive,” said Tyler Minamyer, Regional Manager at IGM. “Those operators that understand how to continue to be successful know that (course) conditions are what sets us apart, but also that the expectations must be met year-round and not just at the peak time of the year.”

In addition to maintenance, IGM consults on long-range planning, renovations, and infrastructure.

“Maintenance is our centerpiece,” Minamyer said, adding that grounds maintenance requires an increasingly specific skillset that more often requires club managers to seek outside input. “Maintenance may be their largest business expense and they may not have the expertise it requires.”

The development of new technology to monitor course conditions requires a higher knowledge of agronomy and more fine-tuning of expensive irrigation, fertilizing and tree-management plans, Minamyer said. Using a contractor can also provide a level of certainty in scheduling and budgeting landscaping projects, inventory, and day-to-day operations.

This winter IGM installed a network of wireless sensors at Lake of the Woods in Locust Grove, Va. The SP-110 sensors from Silicon Valley’s Spiio were planted at strategic locations on each hole and provide real-time measurements of soil moisture and salinity as well as readings on temperature and sunlight levels.  

The data not only enables IGM’s groundskeepers to finesse their watering and fertilizing schedules, but also ensures that the grass is getting the right amount of sunlight to keep fairways lush and the greens at perfection. All of that new data is available in real time and enables superintendents to monitor issues around the clock with relative ease and then present their concerns and ideas to the club management in a transparent and comprehensive manner. 

“It’s a lot harder to do that when you are writing everything down on a piece of paper,” Minamyer said. 

At one time, Valleycrest Golf Maintenance battled IGM for leadership in the maintenance market. Valleycrest, which changed its name to BrightView Golf Maintenance, has grown to 80 courses. It was selected this winter by Hillendale Country Club to maintain its century-old championship course outside Baltimore.

“We are honored to have been chosen to care for this historic course, one of the best-known private golf facilities in Maryland,” said company President Greg Pieschala, who has run the company since 2005 . “We are looking forward to helping Hillendale provide the best golf experience in the region for members, visitors and competitive golfers.”

 

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