By Polly Lynn Mikula
KILLINGTON— In the past, the prices at Killington town’s municipal Green Mountain National Golf Course “didn’t really compete well for Vermont or Killington residents,” said J.P. Longueil, interim head golf professional and general manager at GMNGC.
There will be new rates this year as the golf course is under new management.
“With our pricing structure, Killington residents get the best value, followed by Vermont residents, then out-of-state visitors,” said Longeueil as he explained the rates. “We want the course to be most accessible to town and state residents, to give more value to our local community, rather than those that just come and play one weekend… we want to create a community here where everyone feels they have lots of opportunities to play.”
Longueil works for Brown Golf Management full time at Orange Lake Golf in Kissimmee, Fla. BGM was hired by the town in April to manage the operations at GMNGC for the next three years. They presented their budget to the Select Board on Thursday, May 10, and it is expected to be approved Tuesday, May 15.
“There really weren’t many changes to the budget, other than the tiered pricing structure; the maintenance team still has its full allocation,” Longueil said. “We will be getting new balls for the driving range as well as new bag stands,” he added, though it will take a few weeks to get them. One of the three tiers at the diving range will also be converted to a members-only range, where balls will be provided, he said. “That way members never have to go to the clubhouse, they can just pull up and hit balls.”
This year, the driving range fee will be included in the membership ($899 for membership + $99 for the range fee, to be announced June 1). But in subsequent years it will likely be just one price, Longueil said.
The daily rates to play are broken into three tiers: Killington Resident (defined as those with property on the Grand List or full-time renters); Vermont Resident; and Daily Fee (out-of-state); plus the junior rate. May and after Oct. 9 are the most affordable times to play, followed by June. Mid-season rates are July-Oct. 8. A Killington resident can play for $39 in May and after Oct. 9. In June it’ll cost $49. Then, mid-season it jumps to $74. Vermont residents are $6-10 more and out-of-staters are $16-$25 more than Killington residents. (The junior rate is always $25). These rates include a cart.
The prices “are pretty aggressive compared to courses in the area, but the value is much better… we think our product, the experience here is better,” said Longueil. “We didn’t want to overprice it, though, because we want everyone to play here, not just the 1 percent.”
BGM has set a conservative goal of 5 percent growth in tee times for this summer compared to last, Longueil said. “We’re pretty well into the swing of things for this year,” he said, noting that they typically work to see results about four months out. “We expect to see a difference come September or October,” he said, adding that next year they expect to see significantly more growth, though a goal has not yet been set.
BGM has identified three main ways it expects to increase GMNGC tee times: online bookings, local stay-and-play packages, and their reciprocal program, which grants members access to BGM’s 27 golf clubs on the East Coast.
GMNGC will have an updated website by May 29, said Longueil. At that point, folks will once again be able to book online on the GMNGC website as well as through Golf Now and teeoff.com.
In the past GMNGC had had the ability to book tee times online, but last year it wasn’t possible, he said. “So our goal is to grow that, which won’t be hard to grow from none,” he added.
“Thirty-three percent of my play comes from online bookings,” said Longueil of his course, Orange Lake Golf. “Fifteen percent comes from call-ins and 40 percent comes from owners/members,” he said acknowledging that Florida is a very different market.
“We’re also going to be proactively trying to build upon member events and junior golf, as well as possibly start a weekly league,” he said. “We hope the weather is good this summer and everyone comes out to play.”