Deerfield by Design is not intended to make The Club into an "Oak Hill" type facility. If that were so, we could provide our guests with a first rate golf experience, but we could not do so at a reasonable price. On the other hand, Deerfield by Design is not meant to simply restructure operations or make cuts in operations. Doing so would most likely allow us to charge a reasonable price, but then the quality golf experience would be sacrificed. Deerfield by Design's goal is to provide our guests with the best possible golf experience at a price that most golfers find reasonable in the Rochester area.
The Golf Experience
Deerfield by Design reduces the golf experience to four basic elements:
- Course quality and playability
We believe each of these elements or factors is a vital part of every guest's golf experience. Consequently, Deerfield by Design focuses its energies on evaluating each factor to determine what is its current state and how it can be improved. The following is a brief overview of the efforts thus far.
1. Course quality and playability
The Deerfield Country Club's golf course already possesses a superior layout and design. It is the #1 rated public course in Rochester based on slope and rating, and is generally recognized as a genuine test of a golfer's ability.
In terms of conditioning, we are working on a variety of projects to improve conditioning. Some of the projects are complete, others are in the process of being completed, and still others are being planned.
The bunker restoration project was completed during the 2000 golf season in time for the U.S. Open-Women's Qualifier. This project was not merely a restoration of the existing bunkers, but an improvement and enhancement of many of the bunkers beyond what they were originally. Once this work was complete, official PGA Tour sand was brought in from Ohio to fill them. Using this sand was much more expensive than using the local white sand like most of the courses around us. However, surveys taken as part of Deerfield by Design demonstrated that our guests prefer to play from this higher quality sand when they land in a bunker.
One of the largest projects undertaken as part of the Deerfield by Design program is the conditioning of the greens. Five years ago work began on removing trees to aid in air-flow around many of the troubled greens. Considerable drainage work was also done permitting a number of greens to better drain. Three years ago, a new aeration technique, known as "drill and fill" was employed when soil analysis revealed that the silt content in certain greens was too high. Drill and Fill allowed us to amend the soil composition of the affected greens reducing the silt content that in turn makes for healthier turf without having to close those greens for an entire season.
While the above work brought the greens back to an acceptable level of conditioning, Dr. James Baird of the USGA Greens Section was brought in over the last several years to provide a multi-year plan for even better conditioning. During 2007, Dr. Baird helped us produce the highest greens speed Deerfield has seen in at least 10 years. Just as the Deerfield by Design program is an on-going process, Dr. Baird is scheduled to return twice during the 2008 golf season and make more recommendations.
This USGA Greens Section program is only utilized, to our knowledge, by a handful of the premier private clubs in Western New York mainly due to its cost and the expense of the recommendations. Nonetheless, we believe it is worthwhile because it helps us provide our guests with a higher quality golf experience than that offered by many of the other public and private Clubs in Rochester.
There are a great many other Deerfield by Design projects occurring at the moment such as the beginning of a four year tee restoration project, improved drainage, tree and stump clearance, fairway conditioning, etc. Nonetheless, Deerfield by Design's work on conditioning is already producing tangible results.
The USGA selected The Deerfield Country Club to host its 2000 US-Open Women's Qualifier, which was the 2nd largest site in the United States. Not only was this a major honor for us, it was even more special since it was the first time a public facility ever hosted such a qualifier in Rochester. For 2001, the Western New York section of the PGA is hosting its Professional-Professional Tournament. The Rochester District Golf Association selected The Deerfield Country Club to host its 2002 Senior Championship and the E.C.A.C also hosted its Conference Championship at Deerfield Country Club in 2002.
Over the past two years, a great deal of time and effort was devoted to improving organization. One of the most successful Deerfield by Design projects was the creation of the Tournament Organizer. The Tournament Organizer is a customized, bound book given to all golf outings that contains checklists and requires tournament organizers to gather important information that allows us to more smoothly host a tournament. This organizer has become extremely popular with our tournament planners, due to its comprehensiveness and it allows us to actually provide our Tournament Management Services instead of just advertising them.
Once the organizer is completed and returned to the Club, we have the information necessary to make sure the carts are lined up correctly, registration tables are ready, beverage carts are properly stocked, scorecards and pin placement cards are placed on each cart along with the names of the players assigned to particular holes, score sheets are completed, etc. The Tournament Organizer also provides us with information necessary to have the lunch and dinner portions of an event ready. In short, the Tournament Organizer is the single most useful organizational project yet produced by Deerfield by Design and it is a major part of what has come to make hosting an event at The Deerfield Country Club much easier, friendlier, and more pleasant than many of the courses around us.
Another organizational project stemming from Deerfield by Design is the tee time reservation program purchased in 2000. This program allows us to handle tee times with greater accuracy and provides the pro-shop and marshals with a great deal of information, all of which allows for better scheduling of members, golf events, and open players. It also permits us to operate our Birthday Club in which all guests whose birthdays are known—month and day, not year—to receive a free greens fee during the week of their birthday. The program also provides the foundation for our monthly newsletter that goes out to all current members, league players and open players.
As the third cornerstone of Deerfield by Design, service received a great deal of attention and effort. To assist in the development of better service, Employee Committees were created to provide direct input on how to improve all aspects of service. As a result of these Employee Committees, new systems and programs were introduced to locate more highly skilled employees and much time was devoted to developing better training manuals. In addition, more extensive on-the-job training was developed to help ensure employees receive the support necessary to provide our guests with top-notch service.
Like much of the other Deerfield by Design programs, these projects cost significant sums of money to implement. However, they are working. In 1999, The Deerfield Country Club received the honor of being voted as having the friendliest staff in Rochester by the independent Rochester Golf Guide.
Finally, Deerfield by Design focused on upgrading current amenities as well as providing new ones. For example, two years ago, the driving range was upgraded. The practice bunker was renovated and new sand was put in it. Areas of the range that were uneven were flattened to provide a more consistent teeing area. A commitment was also made to provide our guests with new range balls each year so their practice would produce better on-course results.
The Deerfield Country Club is also the exclusive provider in Rochester of the Galyan's Golf clinics. This clinic is designed to help juniors whose abilities range from beginner to very advanced enjoy the game and become better players. Further, the Deerfield Country Club, in conjunction with the Towns Hilton/Parma and Hamlin also developed free Women's Clinics to introduce girls (12+) and women to the game of golf.
Deerfield by Design also led to the creation of three yardage markers on every par 4 and 5 on our 27 holes for the 2001 season. Introduced in 1999 as a response to comments from our guests was the free pin placement card. This card shows the location of the pin on each hole every day of the week, and it has been a big hit with many of our golfers.
In 1995, The Deerfield Country Club also renovated its extensive banquet facilities and the downstairs Grille Room in 1998. Two years ago, we also hired a well-known Executive Chef with the goal of providing higher quality food than our local competitors. All of these efforts are meeting with much success as our wedding and banquet bookings have increased 475 percent over the past three years and continues to grow.
While our employees are primarily responsible for the implementation of the various Deerfield by Design programs and projects, some of the most important ideas are the result of the hard work of our golf advisory committee. From the very beginning Deerfield by Design recognized the importance of getting input from our golfers. It did not make sense to simply make changes without talking to the people who actually play at The Club.
The men and women who serve on this committee are independent and have a genuine interest in helping us provide a better experience for our guests. They give us extremely valuable, unbiased and often blunt information about what we are doing right, what we are doing wrong, and what we could do better. This committee along with the Employee Committees provide the core of Deerfield by Design and we are very thankful to them for their hard work.
In summary, the Deerfield by Design program is working. The Club is seeing the benefits of its work and its guests are receiving a better quality experience than they can get at many of the courses around us. However, Deerfield by Design is not a static set of principles. It is a continuing effort toward improvement. Given our desire to continue to analyze and improve the golf experience, we would like your help and input. Please take a moment to complete the following survey.