By Kristine Cannon
When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses, like bars and event venues, and pushed people to pursue more socially distanced outdoor activities, none benefited more than golf courses — including Troon’s two Scottsdale courses, Troon North Golf Club and Troon Country Club.
But Scottsdale-based Troon Golf did more than reap the benefits of increased rounds of golf amid the pandemic. It ramped up fundraising efforts, too, giving back nearly thousands of dollars to the community.
This only grazes the surface of what made Troon a leader of the Airpark, especially following a year as challenging and as unprecedented as 2020.
“It certainly was challenging for everyone, especially those that have lost loved ones or friends, or are still unemployed or underemployed because of economic pressures that the pandemics caused,” says Kris Strauss, Troon senior vice president of sales and marketing.
“We took a punch, but we took a softer punch than most industries, and we were able to be a little more resilient through it.”
After a slow March and April in 2020, Troon’s courses experienced a gradual increase in golfers through May; and by June, “it was crazy,” Strauss says.
“Everybody took to golf right away,” he adds. “We had all ages, from young to old, male and female.”
According to golf research and analytics firm Sagacity Golf Technologies, Valley golf courses saw rounds played jump 11.6% from 2019.
Troon’s courses experienced what Strauss calls a “golf boom.”
“So much so — nationally, even — golf interest has risen. Last year, rounds were up 15% over the prior year, and there aren’t not too many industries that can say that their volume grew at that level in a pandemic year,” he says.
While Troon grew its customer base on the course, they were expanding off the course, too.
In January of this year, Troon Golf acquired Virginia-based Indigo Golf Partners, one of the largest golf course management companies in the United States.
The acquisition added more than 160 golf courses, country clubs and resorts in 29 states to Troon’s already robust portfolio of nearly 600 facilities.
As part of the acquisition, Indigo Golf Partners office in Reston, Virginia, to continue and support managed clubs throughout Troon’s full family of brands, including Troon Golf, Troon Privé, Honours Golf and OB Sports.
In February, Troon continued to expand, opening a corporate office in Chicago, adding to its already-stablished offices in Reston, Virginia; Newton, Massachusetts; Chicago; Irvine, California; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Birmingham, Alabama; Seattle; New Braunfels, Texas; and Dubai.
“Our organic growth is really fueled on focusing on our client’s goals and trying to align our goals with that of our clients,” Strauss says. “That’s to create a great resort golf experience.”
Further, in March, Troon announced its partnership with Manifest, an exclusive, chapter-based lifestyle and travel club that provides custom-crafted getaways to unique destinations within the United States, paired with private air service.
According to Dan Cohn, vice president of corporate strategy for Manifest, the new partnership will not only provide preeminent golf experiences and access for its members, but it will also increase Troon member benefits by providing private air travel as well as access to Manifest-curated adventures across the United States.
But the pandemic wasn’t without its challenges.
The lack of tourism in the Scottsdale area, specifically tourists who visit to play golf, impacted courses such as Troon’s.
“While rounds were up, not every golf course owner was saying that they’ve really increased revenue over the prior year,” Strauss says, noting the absence of one particularly important group of annual visitors.
“We haven’t seen the Canadians — for obvious reasons with the border shut down — and those are big drivers of our economy.”
Troon is also awaiting the return of weddings, golf tournaments and large gatherings, which are big revenue drivers for the company.
“Those are the challenges that are ahead of us,” Strauss says. “If you’re a resort property that relies on tourism or has a big piece of wedding business, that business is still on pause. It will come back, but it’s on pause at the moment.”
In the meantime, Troon will continue to cater to its golfers — both experienced and novice — while also giving back to its community in several ways.
To start, Troon’s annual Drive for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which took place from September 24 through December 15, raised more than $93,000, adding to the more than $705,000 the drive has raised over the past 10 years.
Additionally, Troon gave a portion of the proceeds of its Arizona Summer Troon Cards to St. Mary’s Food Bank, as well as donated a portion of all proceeds of its Patriot Troon Card to Folds of Honor and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Troon also launched the Inspire Troon Card, which benefits health care professionals and teachers, with proceeds donated to Direct Relief and Donors Choose.
“We also did some charitable work just for our group of associates,” Strauss adds.
In 2020, Troon launched Troon Cares, which donates dollars to associates impacted by COVID-19.
“It was designed to help out our own, our family,” Strauss says.
Looking ahead, Troon will not only continue to nourish and care for its own family; it will also continue to focus on retention of clients — including new players taking up golf for the first time.
“We believe that all these people who have taken to this sport during the pandemic — or a good portion of them — might not be 100%, but even if 25% of them stick in the game, that’s going to be tremendous for our respective industry,” Strauss says. ν