By BOB SUTTON
The golf part of Forest Oaks Country Club always has been one of the foundations associated with the facility in southeast Guilford County.
Its rich history was solidified as a PGA Tour stop for more than three decades.
But Geoff Dail, who’s general manager at Forest Oaks, said it has so much more to offer.
“The golf is here,” Dail said. “The message we want to get out there is that there are a lot of things going on here.”
So Dail is promoting the tennis and swim programs along with the social aspect that, in some cases, is tied to the cuisine.
“We’re trying to focus marketing on the family, really offering something to every age and every interest within the family,” Dail said. “We want to make it a little bit more appealing. We’re trying to make it a little bit more family-oriented.”
In other words, Forest Oaks is undergoing a version of rebranding.
Part of this comes under the watch of Steve and Pam Sharpe, who live at Forest Oaks and have been club members since 1985. Steve Sharpe is the managing director at the club as the Sharpes became the leasing owners on April 1, 2010, giving the club a hometown feel.
“I just felt like Forest Oaks had such potential,” Sharpe said. “It was kind of the right timing and being a golf nut it was just something I felt was a good thing to do.”
Sharpe, an established golfer, is owner of P&S Grading and formerly owned Sharpe Bros. He has been a two-time qualifier for the U.S. Senior Open, including 2009.
Dail said the new management has sensed the need to push the family element of the club, and make certain Forest Oaks is viewed as a club that serves more than just the avid golfers.
So, as part of a membership campaign that began Feb. 1, a restructured dues scale is in place so prospective members can join on a trial basis until April. And a $250 initiation fee will be credited back to members after a 12-month period as another incentive.
The goal, Dail said, is to attract at least 50 more members during this campaign.
Dail said the swimming and tennis programs, along with new food menus at the dining areas are among the perks.
The tennis program is receiving a boost, he said, from the addition of the Precision Tennis Academy, which has a reputation for top-notch instruction. The club’s junior swimming program has doubled in size since 2009, and 65 participants are expected this year.
Forest Oaks remains its status as a private club, though Dail said he understands how that might have been perceived otherwise after a promotion last year.
In order to help market the club to the public and assist in recruiting new members, Dail said a promotion last year made it possible for non-members to play the course. It provided a short-term stream of revenue and a chance “to get some bodies in the door” along with an opportunity for the club’s growth.
The golf aspect of Forest Oaks is strong even though the PGA Tour’s annual stop has moved across town to Sedgefield Country Club.
Forest Oaks remains on the golf map as the site of the North Carolina Amateur last year, the annual Bridgestone Collegiate (with UNC Greensboro as host) and the stopping point for a Wyndham Championship qualifier. The 18-hole layout also remains in the rotation for Carolinas Golf Association events.
In 2012, the NCAA Division I men’s regional tournament will be contested at the course.
In addition, weekly clinics for juniors and women have been added to the club’s lineup offerings.
Dail said there haven’t been significant changes made to the golf course since 2003, when it reopened following the Davis Love III redesign.
“But it’s maintained as one of the best-conditioned golf courses in the area,” he said.
The Sharpes have a three-year deal as leasing owners with an option for three additional years.
“It has been quite an experience,” Steve Sharpe said. “The golf business is suffering anyway. I was looking to get in there and turn things around. It has taken a little longer than we thought. But we’re having a good time with it.”