There are very few twenty year olds that are world leaders recognized for their vision and innovation of an entire industry. York Region’s ClubLink is one of them, just having finished the celebration of its 20th Anniversary in the golf course ownership and management business.
Being in the golf industry has been a very precarious endeavor in the recent past with economic downturns and an overabundance of courses across North America. However, over the past two decades, ClubLink Corporation has managed to stay the course as one of the most recognized ownership and management brands in the North American golf industry. Based in Aurora, ClubLink operates one of the largest and most recognized stable of golf facilities in Ontario and Quebec. Boasting a diverse collection of designs by many of the preeminent architects in the game including, McBroom, Carrick, Mulyaert, Watson, Nicklaus, Norman, O’Meara, Couples and Hurdzan Fry. ClubLink provides a world of unique experiences to members and guests alike.
Founded in 1993 as a vision of entrepreneur Bruce Simmons, ClubLink is built around the premise of providing “One Membership, More Golf,” which is the pitch heard today when watching all those weekend PGA events on TV. The original portfolio of four facilities has grown to encompass 43 locations throughout Ontario, Quebec and has recently expanded into Florida. With more than 21 000 members calling ClubLink home, the company casts a wide web over the private and corporate golf industry. Many of ClubLink’s Canadian facilities are recognized in conversation as some of the best layouts in the country.
The Central Counties have been at the heart of ClubLink from the very beginning with Pickering’s, Cherry Downs, Emerald Hills in Stouffville, Aurora’s King Valley providing the initial cluster and variety to get this grand plan underway. Combined with the addition of Heron Point in Ancaster, ClubLink assembled a course collection to generate enough buzz in the industry to make their model appealing and viable. Through expansion and acquisition the Central Counties area is now home to the corporate offices and 12 of its member clubs.
Membership is built around the concept of reciprocal play at the wide variety of facilites. Many private clubs had this practice in place with other courses, but Simmons saw a niche for a larger collection of clubs all under one umbrella and philosophy. The facilities are categorized in to tiers for membership purposes; Prestige, Platinum, Gold or Silver. Within ClubLink, members join a “Home Course,” but that membership provides access to all of Club Link’s facilities. An additional fee may be added for rounds played on a higher tiered course than your designated home course. This model suits golfers of all types -The player who wants to belong to a local course, the corporate golfer looking to host clients and the golfer who likes variety, all can find what they need in the ClubLink environment.
However, corporate golf is a cornerstone to the ClubLink model. Golf is an incredibly important tool for organizations with much business being sealed over a 20 foot putt rather than a board room table. With proximity to the GTA’s corporate offices and facility clusters in Ottawa and Montreal present corporate golf opportunities in a variety of locales ClubLink is well positioned to offer an avenue for corporate memberships and the potential to close deals.
Over the years charity tournaments and the wedding & conference market have become a major component of the business model for ClubLink. John Gordon, Communication Director for ClubLink, highlights the importance of this element of the business model. “Each of our Clubs offers the opportunity for a charity or corporate event once per week during the golf season. We have a Corporate Events team based at our head office comprised of PGA professionals who help our clients organize and conduct their events.”
The meeting & conference facilities at many clubs provide a perfect corporate team-building opportunity around a day of business and a little bit of golf thrown in. “Our clubs offer a wide range of outstanding clubhouse facilities. Our hospitality and catering team is comprised of event planners who are experts in assisting our clients with any event, from business meetings, seminars, and weddings,” says Gordon.
ClubLink is a major player in the golf industry in Canada and looks to continue in that role. Asked if ClubLink would consider an expansion of its portfolio, Gordon adds, “ClubLink is always open to examining expansion opportunities that fit our business model and offer increased value to our shareholder and members.” Having transformed the golfing landscape in the Central Counties and now throughout North America, we can only hope for this Central County icon to have many more decades of success.
ClubLink Facilities in the Central Counties:
|Cherry Downs||Pickering||Gold||Historic Howard Watson design|
|Wyndance||Uxbridge||Platinum||Greg Norman’s quarry gem|
|Bethesda Grange||Stouffville||Silver||Extensive renovation and rebrand in 2012|
|Diamond Back||Richmond Hill||Platinum||Hosted Canadian Tour and Canadian PGA events|
|Emerald Hills||Stouffville||Platinum||LPGA Nations Cup host in 1999-2000|
|Highland Gate||Aurora||Daily fee||Quaint Stanley Thompson design|
|King’s Riding||Aurora||Platinum||McBroom design highlighting Moraine views|
|King Valley||Aurora||Prestige||Doug Carrick, Curtis Strange collaboration|
|Rolling Hills||Stouffville||Daily fee||36 holes with Par 70 and par 62 layouts|
|Station Creek||Gormley||Gold||Two Championship layouts recently renovated|
|The Country Club||Woodbridge||Gold||36 championship holes and a 9 hole short course|
|Caledon Woods||Bolton||Gold||Scenic beauty set amid the Caledon Hills|