Disney leaves golf operations to the experts
There’s no disputing that Disney is best at a lot of things, most notably creating a fantasyland that makes lifelong memories for children and adults alike.
Last week, though, Disney officials decided to do something else that they are good at – finding talent. And in this case, they’ve decided to turn over the golf operations of their five courses (home of the PGA Tour’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Classic, played on Joe Lee’s Magnolia Course) to someone who knows a little more about the game than imagineering will allow – Arnold Palmer and his company, Arnold Palmer Golf Management. Palmer Golf has been doing this for years and quite successfully, especially in a tough golf market, and the golf market has never been more challenging than it is now.
Orlando, like many cities, was overbuilt with golf courses during the housing glut, so competing for the golf dollar, even at a high-profile resort like Disney World, is certainly a challenge. You would think, for example, that Disney’s golf customer base is built-in with the millions who visit the giant amusement park every year. But really only a small percentage of those bring their clubs or even play golf, so the bulk of the play comes from other sources, like convention travelers and locals.
The other aspect about running a golf operation is efficiency, and Palmer Golf knows how to pool its resources, often using agronomy and management experts that oversea way more than one operation.
Particularly important, according to a story in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, is that Mr. Palmer himself was heavily involved in the discussions and is taking a personal interest in how the operation will be run. Given that’s he’s not far away at Bay Hill, we have every reason to believe that will be the case.
What can the golfer expect? Nothing real obvious. Customer service at the Disney golf courses was already good, but an efficiently run operation is never bad for business or consumers.
The deal to allow Palmer Golf to run the courses is for 20 years, and here’s something you don’t see every day: The 300-plus employees who ran the courses will either be offered jobs by Palmer Golf or other positions within Disney ? no layoffs.
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