South Bend Tribune: Golf course owner isn’t just playing around
When Linda Rogers talks about golf, she means business.
Earlier this year, on National Golf Day, the owner of Juday Creek Golf Course was talking to Congress people in Washington about the business of golf, part of a launch for the We Are Golf Consortium of several organizations (www.wearegolf.org).
“I explained that golf is a business and it’s just like any other business,” says Rogers, vice president of the National Golf Course Owners Association’s board of directors and president of the Indiana Chapter.
“It’s about providing a great product, good service at a fair price. So often people think of golf as an elitist sport. Ninety percent of golfers are public golfers.”
Representatives of the PGA of America, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and Club Managers Association of America, part of the coalition with manufacturers, suppliers and others, also joined the kickoff.
While the industry raises issues such as competition with government-subsidized courses and exclusion from federal disaster relief — classed with casinos and massage parlors — the event was mostly an introduction to We Are Golf, an ongoing lobbying and public relations effort.
“Our message was introducing ourselves and letting our Congressmen know we are a business like any other business,” Rogers says. “We were there telling our story and not having our hand out. Basically, we want a level playing field.
“When I talked, I basically spoke on more of the economic side of it and explained the business of it, that it is actually a business like any other business. We’re part of the community. We hold countless charitable fundraisers.
“We promote a healthy lifestyle. As owners of large tracts of greenspace, we’re stewards of the environment. We pay a lot of money in property taxes that financially support the community. We support other businesses.”
Nationally, golf is a $76 billion industry with a total economic impact of $195 billion, including 2 million jobs with total wages of $61 billion.
From the beginning, Linda and her husband, Mike, high school sweethearts in Bad Axe, Mich., approached golf course ownership from the business side rather than a hobby-turned-career experience.
The couple, who bought a service station and named it Mike’s Marathon in the early 1970s, soon decided they wanted a different kind of business.
“We had decided when we were in the service station business that the next business we would get into would be a business that people came to because they wanted to, not because they had to,” recalls Linda, who majored in math and minored in biology at Central Michigan University.
They bought Fish Corners between South Haven, Mich., and Coloma, with a bar between two softball fields, then a run-down restaurant between Dowagiac and Cassopolis that became the first of five Lindy’s Restaurants.
They sold the locations in Decatur, Goshen, Bristol and Constantine in 1985 — two on the memorable date of Aug. 23 — and bought the land that became Juday Creek Golf Course and Juday Creek Estates.
“People think when you have a golf business you get to play all the time,” she says. “You’re in the business. We have the same issues as any other business.
“While I love the game of golf and I like to play as much as I can, my first priority is my business, and my business is golf.”