Newly stabilized ArrowCreek focuses on golfer experience

The new owners of ArrowCreek Country Club feel confident they've calmed the storms that surrounded the club last year, and they believe the southwest Reno course will do well despite the economic downturn.

But the new owners, Golden Gate Golf of Watsonville, Calif., didn't undertake any big plans during the winter months to get ArrowCreek ready for the spring season.

Instead, Golden Gate Golf owners Bob Bowker and Charlie Leder simply spent hours listening to club members, residents of the ArrowCreek neighborhood and others who play the semi-public course.

"They didn't want to rush in and make major changes," says Drew

Yardley, membership director of ArrowCreek Country Club.

And they didn't think major changes were necessary even when they purchased the club.

Bowker and Leder believed ArrowCreek is one of the premier golf properties in northern Nevada its two courses were designed by Arnold Palmer, Fuzzy Zoeller and famed architect John Harbottle that needed only some stability.

Bitter litigation and a near-brush with bankruptcy roiled the club for the better part of two years before Golden Gate Golf purchased ArrowCreek Country Club form Westerra Management and ArrowCreek Golf Holdings. Golden Gate Golf also operates Pajaro Valley Golf Club at Royal Oaks, Calif.

The new owners invested in renovation and fine-tuning of the clubhouse this winter, but one of the biggest decisions came with the hiring of John Grothe as director of golf.

Grothe, who joined ArrowCreek at the start of this month, previously worked seven years as director of golf at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. He's also worked at California's Pebble Beach Golf Links and Del Monte Golf Course as well as Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon.

John Ross, the general manager of ArrowCreek Country Club, notes that Grothe brings business strengths as well as golf savvy to the club.

He has been recognized as merchandiser of the year by the Pacific Northwest Section of the PGA and was named the Oregon PGA Golf Professional of the Year last year.

Grothe says the course itself spurred his interest in the ArrowCreek job.

"It was all about the quality of the experience how great the clubhouse is, how great the clubhouse is," he says.

And he jokes that playing in the high, dry air of ArrowCreek is an eye-opener for golfers who've been driving their tee shots into the thick air of courses along the coast of California and Oregon.

"You feel like a god when you play here," he says.

But the key to the success of the ArrowCreek golf course, Grothe says, ultimately will depend less on god-like experiences than the tiny details of a player's experience.

"If you don't have great customer service, you die," he says.

Among the tasks to be undertaken this year, Yardley and Grothe say, is getting the word to golfers who mistakenly believe that ArrowCreek Country Club is open to members only.

While the club's Challenge Course is limited to members and guests, ArrowCreek's Legend Course is open for public play. That course was designed by Arnold Palmer.

Greens fees for the public are $100 $65 from 2-4 p.m., $45 after 4 p.m. during the May-October season. Clubhouse facilities, including its restaurant, are open to members of the public on the day they play the course.

The country club also continues to sell memberships. Equity golf memberships are priced at $35,000, non-equity memberships at $18,000 and social memberships at $4,000.

Grothe expects play at ArrowCreek to stay strong despite the economic recession.

Reno continues to build momentum as a popular destination for golf-oriented tourism, he says, and ArrowCreek is on the must-play list of many of those visitors.

At the same time, he says the almost-mystical experience that many golfers experience on the course remains a powerful draw even during downturns.

"It's heaven," Grothe says. "It's a place people can get away from the stock market, away from their cell phones, for four hours."


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