Major makeovers and outstanding leadership have
helped strengthen these 10 clubs financially and
kept them relevant in a changing marketplace.
BY SCOTT KAUFFMAN
;ree years ago, River Run Country Club
was in trouble. ;e Davidson, N.C., club
had been operating at a loss for a decade. Its
members were unhappy.
Enter consultant Tom White. He was
brought in to direct a $2.5 million makeover that club o;cials hoped would revive
River Run’s fortunes. First on the list: a $1.2
million renovation of dining facilities in
the main clubhouse, coupled with a new,
$250,000 restaurant in the tennis center.
Today, the member-owned club is pro-
jecting a $423,000 net operating pro;t, and
its income from dues is up 500 percent.
Nearly half of its members rate the club a
9 or 10 on the satisfaction scale. And White
is still at the course, now as its general man-
;at amazing rebound helped River Run
earn the top spot in the private club category on Golf Inc.’s list of Most Improved
Courses for 2017.
While many golf properties continue
to struggle, River Run and the other nine
public and private clubs recognized in this
annual list have been able to turn their bottom lines around, thanks to smart investments and savvy leadership. ;e result:
Financial losers have been transformed into
Here are the 10 most improved courses
of 2017, as chosen by the editorial sta; of
River Run Country Club
General Manager: Tom White
A;er 12 years as a general manager, Tom White le; the day-to-day side of the private-club
business in 2001 and became a
consultant, moving up and down
the Eastern Seaboard to assist clubs
in need of a ;x.
When River Run Country Club called on
his services in July 2015 amid a planned $2.5
million overhaul, White ;gured he would be
there for no more than six weeks.
Two years later, White is still there. Not
only is the now-thriving River Run membership grateful he decided to stay on as the
club’s general manager but also he’s become
the driving force behind River Run’s recognition as Golf Inc.’s most improved private club
Jonathan Donahue, a River Run board
member and chairman of the House
Committee, said the club has been through
a major turnaround. It began in 2014 and
culminated in the second half of 2016 with
a grand reopening to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
“;e turnaround was initiated by multiple board members over the last few years,”
Donahue said, “but could not have realized
the success it did without Tom White accepting the general manager role and taking
3over that club o;cials hoped would revive