Detroit Country Club could be under new management as soon as next spring

Troon, a golf course management company, has been in talks with the Detroit Country Club in Detroit Lakes to take over management of the facility as soon as spring of 2022. Sam Rufer, president of the Detroit Country Club Board, said Troon would bring a lot of golf course management experience and lead the hunt for a new general manager in the coming years.

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Pine to Palm champion Nate Adams tees off the sixth in front of the gallery at Detroit Country Club Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune

Detroit Country Club in Detroit Lakes, home of the Pine to Palm golf tournament, may soon be coming under new management for the upcoming 2022 season.

During a work session for the Detroit Lakes City Council on Dec. 21, members of the Detroit Country Club Board presented a preliminary management proposal to the members of the city council from Troon, a national golf course management company. Troon manages more than 650 golf courses across the country and Sam Rufer, president of the Detroit Country Club Board, said the company would bring a lot of golf course management experience and lead the hunt for a new general manager in the coming years.

"We got to a point, kind of in the middle of the season last year, where we really decided that the current way of doing things wasn't working anymore," said Rufer, during the presentation. "The operation had gotten so big out there, the golf course industry landscape had kind of shifted to the point that the way we are doing things with the board basically being the day-to-day, on-the-ground management of the Detroit Country Club just doesn't work anymore. I'm an attorney, I don't know how to run a restaurant and I don't know how to run a golf course, so we started looking at options for how we fix that, what can we do about it?"

He said, while the city owns the golf course, like they also own Detroit Mountain and the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center, those other entities have a management layer the golf course doesn't have.

"I was pretty skeptical about it at first, I didn't think this would be a good fit for us and I didn't know that Troon would want to work with us, partially due to the size of our operation, partially due to our arraignment with the city," said Rufer. "But the more and more we dug into it ... the more and more it seemed like the best option."


Rufer also said Mark Holm, the PGA professional at the course for decades and current general manager, has said he's on a year-to-year plan and implied he may be looking to step away from the course. Adding, if Troon took over management, they would be in charge of the day-to-day operations, payroll, accounting and finding a professional-level replacement for Holm.

"The advantage of Troon is having their network," he said. "They've trained up people, they'd have contacts and resources able to put somebody in there for the start of this golf season in March, or whenever this (snow) gets off the ground."

Rufer said by making these changes, he hopes to ensure a solid future for the course in terms of financial viability and growth.

The cost of the management arrangement with Troon is still being negotiated, he said, but the board believes they can raise the management costs through increased revenue from cart fees, restaurant management and other cost-saving measures.

"I think they are going to be a good thing; obviously, it's a change, it's a leap of faith and I don't know for sure, but it's the best information that I have," said Rufer.

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Ian Simonich of Moorhead takes his shot at the Pine to Palm Golf Tournament at the Detroit Country Club, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune

Lead Multimedia Reporter for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus.
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