After spending the better part of its existence in flux after a failed land development project didn’t produce any dirt movement, Falls Village Golf Club is about to come to life in a big way.
The public layout located off Highway 98 in Durham was purchased by Virginia-based Traditional Golf Properties in October, immediately placing it under the membership umbrella of The Preserve at Jordan Lake and Chapel Ridge, and the firm’s 13 other golf courses.
Traditional Golf landed The Preserve and Chapel Ridge in early 2010 after studying the Triangle market for several years, and if you’ve played the Davis Love III and Fred Couples/Bob Moore signature courses recently you’ll get a sense of how serious Traditional Golf is about upgrading Falls Village’s playing conditions, service and amenities.
Sure, Falls Village doesn’t have a high-profile name attached to its design (William Daniel was the architect), but the sprawling property originally designed for home development offers what most other courses in this area don’t – peace and quiet.
Opened in 1999 and set on rolling hills with some water and wiggle to a nice variety of holes, Falls Village has enormous potential for growth.
“A lot of people we talked to really do enjoy the serenity at Falls Village. It’s definitely a differentiator for us,” said Traditional Golf Properties president Paul Mauk. “And over time there is development planned around there, but in the meantime we’re going to take advantage of that environment and we’re going to play on that from a marketing perspective.
“The layout has not been the issue at Falls Village by any means,” added Mauk. “It is a very strong layout that just needs a structured program in place from an agronomy perspective. It’s going to take a little time and budget, but people will see marked improvement in the product very quickly.”
That’s an understatement. For starters, Traditional Golf has overseeded the fairways, meaning golfers will be hitting off of green grass in the winter and not dormant Bermuda – provided you hit it straight off the tee.
“Overseeding is not common with the Raleigh market, but we want to enhance the playing conditions immediately, and then in the summer we’ll address some of the underlying turf issues as well,” Mauk said.
“We want to show that we’re here as a golf course operations company for the long haul and we’re dedicated to making the golf course better and as well as the club,” added Gene Fones, general manager at all three Traditional Golf courses in the Triangle. “You’ll also see improved mowing frequencies and a larger staff to impact details around the golf course. You have to shine.”
One superintendent – Brian Peters – will oversee staffs at all three courses, but there are numerous advantages to being under one agronomy umbrella.
“You become more efficient because you don’t have to run everything as a stand-alone property, relative to staff, equipment and the best mowing practices,” Fones said. “We have a consistent maintenance program that we feel works; it’s solid and efficient. All you have to do is look at the conditions at Chapel Ridge and The Preserve, they have never been better.”
Members at Falls Village (about 125) or others wishing to join have been invited to “re-enroll” as Traditional Golf Properties members and will only be required to pay $100 per month (individual) or $125 per month (family) through April 1. The dues then increase slightly to $149 and $190 per month.
There is no initiation fee for Falls Village members, who will have reciprocal privileges at the other two Chatham County courses, paying a nominal $25 fee, including cart. Chapel Ridge and The Preserve members will be able to play Falls Village for an $18 cart fee.
“The location is awesome,” Fones said. “We’re right between Raleigh and Durham and just north of RTP. We have a great opportunity to get golfers here to play a quality golf course and have a quality experience.
“And we have something that most of the other competition doesn’t have the opportunity to offer, starting with the number of golf courses, choice of play and variety at one very reasonable membership fee.”
Fones said more changes are on the way at Falls Village, including more pro-shop merchandise and flat screen TVs. “We’re going to make it feel better,” Fones said.
Traditional Golf has also created a new logo for Falls Village that will be added to shirts, sweaters and balls.
“The old logo wasn’t good from a merchandising perspective, nor was it very identifiable,” Mauk said. “Some changes needed to be made at the property, so it was a good way to start rebranding Falls Village with a more simplified logo. We saw it as a good opportunity to start changing the face of the property and upgrading the brand and the image.”
Mauk indicated Traditional Golf, which also owns Rocky Mount Golf Club and Carolina National in Bolivia in Eastern North Carolina, would continue to look at expanding its footprint in the Triangle.
“The Raleigh-Durham market has been a strong market for us,” he said. “We’ve been able to implement a structured program on a lot of different fronts that has been well received. It was very well received when we purchased Chapel Ridge and The Preserve, and we’re hoping for similar success in incorporating Falls Village. We’re definitely proponents of the market and we’ll continue to look for good-fit opportunities to expand our presence.
“The key components are the location of the assets, the quality of the assets, the variety within the assets and the value proposition it drives being a member of a number of clubs,” added Mauk. “That’s how we differentiate ourselves. The multi-club membership model is not even utilized to any great extent nationally. Our model is based on a geographic perspective, but we also provide our members reciprocal playing privileges to all 16 clubs under our umbrella.”