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Lessons Earned: Improve your game

How St. Andrew’s Valley Golf Club's Managing Partner, David Nisbet deftly steers the club through shifting market conditions and business-model pivots.

As one of the highest rated golf courses in the country, St. Andrew’s Valley Golf Club boasts close to 200 acres of golfing grandeur with bent grass fairways and USGA spec greens.

As Managing Partner, David Nisbet, describes, “You’re a custodian of a beautiful public park where you create a truly positive getaway.”

Building success pragmatically over time

David considers the golfing business as one that’s very much a lifestyle. “It’s a heavy upfront business, so if you start young it’s been good. And while you get to run a business, you also get to own the store, too.”

He also notes that his company has a good working business model syndicated amongst multiple business owners, and that one of their wisest decisions was to always put the golf course first. “We avoided having the tail wag the dog as it related to clubhouse amenities,” he says. “We have a beautiful facility where we can put the emphasis on the golf course conditions and experience.”

Facing marketplace challenges

Some of the main business challenges David has encountered involve the empowerment of the consumer as far as pricing goes, with public golf becoming somewhat of a commodity. “You have to make sure you have a good value offer for the client because the pricing of golf is so transparent,” he explains. “However, you really have to work on your brand and experience and try not to pander to price only.” 

David recalls, in particular, one instance where the company successfully rebounded from a difficult situation by re-evaluating their strategic approach and shifting gears. “St. Andrew’s Valley was supposed to be a member only product, he says. “We had pre-sales that were well aligned for a duplication of our success in St. Andrew’s East but in 1991, the phones just dried up.”

The company had to quickly pivot and adjust their business plan away from creating a member only collective and convert to a public golf course. As a result, they took out a large mortgage and kept moving forward. “We were able to get out of that mess and not disrupt our reputation,” reflects David.

“It could have been a very difficult time, however, we were able to change our business model in response to the softening demand.”

Finding a trusted partner in CWB Maxium Financial

In regards to his experiences with CWB Maxium Financial, David really values the knowledgeable and longstanding employees with whom he works. The bottom line for him is that they get the job done. He further adds, “They liberate the cash. We’re not tying up a lot of money in depreciating assets, which makes operating the club easier and makes the shareholders happier and allows us to run top equipment without bogging us down financially.” And that’s why his family’s business has worked with CWB for over two decades – and will continue to into the future.

CWB is here to support companies throughout every stage of their business. Speak to a CWB Maxium Financial advisor today to see how they can help your business grow.