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Abbotsford's Ledgeview Golf Course out of financial rough with $75K profit
After being on life support just over a year ago, Ledgeview Golf Course engineered a sharp financial turnaround in 2013.
The McKee Road facility suffered through three straight years of six-figure losses between 2010 and 2012, and required a $115,000 subsidy from the City of Abbotsford in May 2012 to stay viable.
The financial picture was so bleak that the board of the Ledgeview Golf Society – which leases the city-owned property and operates the course – approached its membership in October 2012 with a special resolution that could have seen them turn over the keys to the municipality.
However, the members elected to give it another go, and following an operational overhaul, Ledgeview turned a $75,000 profit in 2013.
“It’s been a collective effort – so many people contributing in so many ways,” said Ledgeview Golf Society interim president John Hambley.
“I think there was a collective spirit among members, the community, and creditors. Nobody wanted to see the course close ... everybody has a real warm spot in their heart for the golf course.”
Hambley was one of six newcomers to the seven-member Ledgeview board who were tasked with turning around an organization saddled with $400,000 of debt, having incurred losses of $112,000 in 2010, $240,000 in 2011 and $150,000 in 2012.
In order to survive into 2013 and meet payroll and creditor obligations, the society had to raise $125,000 in just over two months. They reached that goal through a $500 special assessment from members, drawing an additional $50,000 in donations, and by asking creditors to take 80 cents on the dollar.
“It was very touch and go,” Hambley said.
“We were trying to make it from one payroll period to the next, and staff was basically told, ‘We’ll see if we can make it to the 15th of the month, and then we’ll see if we can make it to the end of the month.’”
The business plan for 2013 was built around reducing costs in administration, the pro shop, greens and grounds, and food/beverage services.
Ledgeview saved $75,000 by going without a general manager, as member volunteers took over administrative duties. They also contracted out the food services, thereby guaranteeing a profit in a traditional money-losing area.
The course also drew more golfers last year – a product of co-operative weather, and an increased focus on marketing and promotions to boost bookings during non-peak times.
Hambley believes the positive momentum is sustainable going forward, and a further staff restructuring has seen the society hire an operations manager to help the volunteers run the course.
The society’s debt is now down to “the $225,000 to $250,000 range” from $400,000, and Hambley said talks have begun with the city about extending the lease, which expires at the end of 2015.
“We’re looking to knock the remainder off (the debt) over the next two years,” he said.
The $115,000 grant that Ledgeview received from the city in 2012 included $65,000 in rent forgiveness for the 2011 season and $50,000 toward capital improvements. Those sums were not part of the 2013 profit figures, and Hambley does not anticipate approaching the city for another subsidy.