Reynolds Plantation sets Great Waters reopening

No. 13 at Great Waters.

No. 13 at Great Waters.

Reynolds Plantation is dealing with the same issues as its residential and resort competitors around the country: weak home sales and a sharp decline in its group business. But Bob Mauragas, vice president of golf operations, predicts an upturn in business by year’s end and notes that the Georgia development is upgrading its golf offerings and expanding its amenities for residents.

Mauragas says Reynolds Plantation’s business plan assumes that the first half of this year will remain flat, there will be evidence of improvement in the third quarter, and the final three months of the year should bring what he calls a “momentum change.”

As is true across the industry, Reynolds Plantation’s group business has been hit hard. Mauragas said that category was down 30 percent in 2009, and he expects it to be flat this year before starting to rebound in 2011.

“The thrust of our profitability is our corporate business,” says Mauragas, who adds that corporate customers, on average, spend 2.5 times more than leisure customers.

If business goes according to plan, Mauragas expects Reynolds Plantation will start work next year on a seventh golf course, to be designed by Pete Dye. That layout will be located at the northern end of Lake Oconee, near the Creek Club.

Reynolds Plantation is preparing to reopen its signature course, Great Waters, following a year-long renovation job. Great Waters, ranked No. 3 on the list of Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in Georgia, will be open to members by March 15, according to Mauragas. The work on the Jack Nicklaus design included removal of about 650 trees, extensive bunker work and reshaping of fairways.

The development – located near rural Greensboro, about halfway between Atlanta and Augusta – also plans to open Georgia’s first charter school this fall for grades K-8.

Aside from its own business, the Reynolds’ team has been providing management support for the former Ginn Co. properties, such as Reunion Resort near Orlando, Fla.

“The bones of all of the Ginn properties are great,” Mauragas said. “It’s the business plans that don’t work.”

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