The Golf Course at Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee

How Cuscowilla, a Top-Ranked Golf Course, Planned for Their Future

When cost control and the right partner creates opportunity

Jul 15, 2019 |

Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee is the No. 1-ranked residential golf club in Georgia, No. 25 in the country, and No. 5 among all private clubs in Georgia. They are a preferred course among players in their market, which enabled them to raise dues by 10 percent a year over the past two years and double their initiation fees. They didn’t get there without a plan. 

Leadership at Cuscowilla Knew They Had Something Special

Cuscowilla had a Coore & Crenshaw-designed course featuring signature red bunkers, natural rugged edges, and new Champion Bermudagrass greens and TifGrand aprons — all the right ingredients for a pristine, awe-inspiring golf course. With forward-looking and strategic management, the club had aspirations to invest in their future, but they needed to get costs under control and see better results from their recent investment in their greens. That’s when they found BrightView Golf Maintenance. 

Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee in Georgia
The approach bunker at the sixth green in February, shortly after the bunker renovation was completed.

A Partnership that Created Opportunity

Within the first few months on the course, BrightView delivered better conditions with the same course operating budget, which improved member confidence and satisfaction. The club was ready for long-term planning. Club leaders and BrightView put their heads together to identify priorities and come up with a plan.

Equipment Upgrades were Top on the List

The club’s equipment had outlived its useful life and wasn’t optimally suited for the turf and conditions requirements. BrightView experts helped source the right equipment, leveraging their buying power to extend significant savings to the club. The upgrade created an immediate impact. Crews are now able to work more efficiently and productively and course conditioning requirements — faster green speeds, more manicured transitions — are finally being met consistently.

Next Up was the Bunker Renovation

Cuscowilla has always been known for its signature red bunkers with natural rugged edges. They give the course a character of its own while creating visual impact, but the soil composition was proving to impact the health of the surrounding turf, and the bunkers were losing their intended shape and structure. It was past time to renovate the bunkers and BrightView provided an option that made it possible for the club. 

BrightView offered a three-year financing package for the first phase of their bunker renovation, which included all greenside bunkers. Self-performing the job, BrightView sourced new soil that matched the color and character of the original bunkers, yet resolved the drainage issue. BrightView’s in-house golf course architect, Erik Larsen, ASGCA, coordinated with the architect of record, Coore & Crenshaw, to ensure the bunker renovation project would retain the original design intent. The work was completed within five weeks, five weeks ahead of the projected schedule, and the craftsmanship met the approval of both club members and the esteemed architect of record.

The Investment Created Momentum

Today, member satisfaction floats around nine and 10, up from six before BrightView arrived. General Manager Jarrod Clark credits BrightView for both the boost to member satisfaction, as well as their ability to attract a consistent flow of new members who have shown they value the club by paying increased member dues and initiation fees. 

“Members are saying the course is the best it has ever been," Clark said. "I have no doubt that the membership growth we’re seeing has happened because of the improved course quality BrightView is delivering.”

Cuscowilla keeps getting better. They have a clubhouse renovation in progress and the Phase 2 fairway bunker renovation and other course upgrades are in their long-term plan. Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee is ranking among top courses for a reason. They recognize the value of their key asset, they’re reinvesting in it, and they have the right partner, BrightView Golf Maintenance, to help them achieve their goals and continue leading their market.

Outstanding Golf Course Maintenance

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