As it enters its fourth season of operation, The Prairie Club is trying to attract more golfers to the Nebraska Sandhills by delivering more value. Early indications are that the changes at the club have been well received by golfers.
The Valentine, Neb., resort, which reopens for the 2013 season on May 16, has cut its early-week stay-and-play rates 20 percent. The price of a two-day, one-night stay dropped to $399 from $499. In addition, members’ weekday lodging rates were slashed to $125 from $190. The moves reversed 2012 price increases.
The Prairie Club, home to two highly rated 18-hole layouts and a 10-hole short course, also has instituted a policy that could prove more popular than the price cuts: unlimited golf every day.
Response to the new policies has been strong. Paul Schock, founder of The Prairie Club, said 3,600 room-nights already have been booked this year, four times as many compared to the same point in 2012. Last year the club booked a total of only 4,400 room-nights.
“It finally feels like we’re going to have that breakthrough year in terms of revenues and making money,” Schock said.
The club has made other changes. It ended its relationship with CaddieMaster, though still plans to offer caddies. In a related initiative, The Prairie Club is inviting guests to make a voluntary donation to play the 10-hole Horse Course, which is free to customers. Half of the donations will be put toward a scholarship for Valentine High School students who work at the club; the other half will go toward junior golf and participation initiatives in Nebraska.
The club this year also has shortened its season to six months, opening later and planning an Oct. 16 closing. The playing conditions in north-central Nebraska often are ideal in April or late October, but Schock said weather-wary customers wouldn’t book outside that six-month window.
One thing that would help this season would be more favorable weather conditions. The Sandhills region was hammered last year with weeks of 100-plus-degree temperatures. Schock believes that, along with the higher prices, stifled any momentum the club had in 2012.