Raintree Country Club, located just west of Hillsboro Missouri, closed its doors and went into bankruptcy the spring of 2011. The property was completely abandoned with the exception of the lenders basic oversight. The golf course greens were quickly lost while everything else grew unchecked. Luckily, Dave and Kathy Tucker purchased it from the bank in late May of 2012 and have brought it back to life over the last 2 years.
The Missouri Golf Post: Can you share a bit about your golf and business experience and what inspired you to purchase the Raintree Golf Club?
Dave: I’ve been hooked on golf for over 30 years and have a lot of friends in the industry. In my previous career, I managed commercial real estate for one of the world’s largest financial institutions. This included properties with full service dining facilities, up to 4000 occupants, critical equipment and acres of property. There are many similarities and the processes you put in place are pretty much the same. Most of us in the real estate management world can’t visit a property either professionally or leisurely without noting the details on how that particular property appears and operates. In that regard, I’ve experienced many fine golf facilities over the years and have a pretty good feel for what the average person is looking for. Since we lived on the course and had the opportunity to try and fix the situation, we made the leap.
TMGP: What were some of the first things that required your attention when you got the course? How did you prioritize everything that needed to be done?
Dave: Due to the growing season constraints, the greens on the course were our first priority. With purchase negotiations started in the late summer of 2011, the lender, First State Community Bank, increased the odds of a sale by stripping and reseeding all the greens. This was done just in time with a couple of mowings by that winter. We prioritized our task list based on the dates we expected to open each component of the Club. Beside the golf course, the club also has a full service restaurant and bar and swimming pool.
TMGP: What were some of the biggest challenges that you encountered when working to get the club back up and running?
Dave: Besides financing delays that kept pushing our closing date later, the drought during the summer of 2012 created some challenges. We had many stressful days dealing with irrigation problems with brand new greens to consider.
TMGP: How did you approach your marketing strategy and letting the public and previous customers know that you were back in business?
Dave: Marketing to the public has been challenging. Raintree Country Club is what many describe as semi-private. The golf course and restaurant are open to the public but many assume the term Country Club means totally private. We have tried to change that assumption by renaming the course “Raintree Golf Club” and the restaurant “The Tree’s Restaurant and Bar”. We advertise these as public entities on many formats including social media.
TMGP: What advice would you give to someone contemplating buying a country club? What important factors should they keep in mind?
Dave: There are many different things to consider and probably no two situations are alike. Skipping over the required income exceeding expenses requirement, I would recommend fully understanding the various sources of income. Many clubs and golf/housing communities have legally binding agreements in place that can have a major impact on your success or failure.
TMGP: What’s been the best part of the experience of reviving Raintree Golf Club?
Dave: Seeing the property from abandoned and overgrown to what it is today and hearing the positive feedback from the community. I also have many friends that have volunteered their time from the beginning to make it work and we couldn’t have done it without them.
TMGP: What improvements have you made that weren’t there previously?
Dave: Many. A properly maintained golf course, totally redesigned and remodeled restaurant/bar and for the members, we added a fitness center and converted the pool to salt water.
TMGP: Is there anything thing about the process that has surprised or disappointed you?
Dave: The lack of interest by the St. Louis Post Dispatch was disappointing. The annual 2012 Golf Guide cover was a picture of an overgrown Raintree golf course with an article within describing all the course closures in the area. We contacted them about possibly mentioning we were open (as of June 15, 2012- just a couple months after the guide was published) and received no response. We assumed bad news must be more interesting to them than setting the record straight. We still encounter people that are just now rediscovering us as they thought we were still closed.
TMGP: What customer feedback has been the most meaningful for you to hear?
Dave: The compliments that I receive in regards to our Course Superintendent, Joe Lind, and our Restaurant Manager, Jason Bartnick. They are both individuals similar to myself in that they are relatively new to their respective fields. They are both building a great reputation for themselves.
TMGP: What insider tips would you give to someone playing at Raintree for the first time?
Dave: Don’t be tempted by the shorter yardage on some holes. Accuracy is more important than distance and try to stay below the hole on your approach shots. If you play the course conservatively you will have a better chance of going low.