When the pandemic shuttered businesses and pushed people to pursue more socially distanced outdoor activities, few benefited more than golf courses — including Troon North Golf Club and Troon Country Club in Scottsdale.
But Scottsdale-based Troon Golf did more than reap the benefits of increased rounds of golf.
It also ramped up fundraising to generate thousands of dollars for the community.
“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,” said Kris Strauss, Troon senior vice president of sales and marketing.
“We took a punch but we took a softer punch than most industries,” he continued, “and we were able to be a little more resilient through it.”
After a slow March and April last year, Troon’s courses experienced a gradual increase in golfers so that by June, “it was crazy,” Strauss said.
“Everybody took to golf right away,” he added. “We had all ages, from young to old, male and female.”
According to research and analytics firm Sagacity Golf Technologies, Valley golf courses saw rounds played jump 11.6 percent over 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 percent over the prior year and there’s not too many industries that can say that their volume grew at that level in a pandemic year,” he said.
Last January, Troon Golf acquired Virginia-based Indigo Golf Partners, one of the nation’s largest golf course management companies.
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.
In February, Troon opened a new corporate office in Chicago, adding to its already established offices in 10 states and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“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 said, “and that’s to create a great resort golf experience.”
Earlier this month, Troon announced its partnership with Manifest, an exclusive, chapter-based lifestyle and travel club that provides custom-crafted getaways to unique destinations within the U.S. paired with private air service.
Dan Cohn, vice president of corporate strategy for Manifest, said the new partnership will provide preeminent golf experiences and access for Manifest members and increase Troon member benefits by providing private air travel as well as access to Manifest-curated adventures across the U.S.
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 said, 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 said. “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 while also giving back to its community in several ways.
To start, Troon’s annual Drive for Phoenix Children’s Hospital last fall 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 their Arizona Summer Troon Cards to St. Mary’s Food Bank, as well as donated a portion of all proceeds of their Patriot Troon Card to Folds of Honor and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Troon also launched the Inspire Troon Card, which benefits healthcare 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 added.
In 2020, Troon launched Troon Cares, which donates dollars to associates impacted by COVID-19. “It was designed to help our own, our family,” Strauss said.
Looking ahead, Troon will not only continue to nourish and care for their own family; they’ll also continue to focus on retention of their clients – including new players taking up golf for the first time.
“We believe that all these people that have taken to this sport during the pandemic – or a good portion of them – might not be 100 percent, but even if 25 percent of them stick in the game, that’s going to be tremendous for our respective industry,” Strauss said.