Director of Club Services
B A C K G R O U N D E R . . .
Ray Metz has a long term tenure with Troon Golf. He began his career with Troon in 1999 and opened Maderas Golf Club in San Diego, CA. In 2000, Metz moved to the International division with Troon and managed golf properties in Mexico, Dubai and Spain. These golf clubs included Cabo del Sol, Los Cabos, MX (2000-2002), Tres Vidas Country Club, Acapulco, MX (2002), Palmilla Golf Club, Los Cabos, MX (2003 – 2007), The Montgomerie Dubai, Dubai, UAE (2007 – 2009) and Club de Campo La Zagaleta, Marbella, Spain (2010). He returned to the U.S. and managed Conestoga Golf Club, Mesquite, NV (2010 – 2013), Knollwood Country Club, West Bloomfield, MI (2013 – 2014) before taking on the helm of the 8 course portfolio of golf clubs in Hot Springs Village in the fall of 2014. Ray’s wife Peggy Kellum also has a long standing career in the golf industry with senior positions with Wilson Sporting Goods and Titleist. Upon departing Titleist, Peggy was Vice President of Titleist by Corbin.
T H E M E T Z S T O R Y . . .
The point where I knew I could become successful as a PGA Professional in the golf came very early in my career. I began my golf career in 1981 with Marriott Resorts and in December 1982 I was transferred from a midwestern summer resort, to Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ on a seasonal basis.
I arrived a few days early and was invited to join some of the staff for a round of golf. I joined the PGA Professional who was the Tournament Coordinator, the staff member who was the range attendant, picking the driving range, and a junior golfer whose parents were members of the Club. I remember jumping on the 10th tee, a straight away par 5, for our first hole. As I just arrived from a summer resort, I had not played golf since the end of the fall golf season a few months earlier. I hit driver, topped a 3-wood, hit a 5-iron fat, 9-iron to the middle of green and 2 putted for a bogey. The other 3 players hit driver, long irons to the middle of the green for eagle putts. All three missed their eagle chances, and tapped in for easy birdies. As we arrived at the 11th tee, I realized how good these guys were and I could not compete against this staff as a player.
Upon the completion of the round I sat with Roger Maxwell, the Director of Golf and Jim Bellington, the Head Golf Professional and told them about my first hole. They both smiled and said not to worry, you can be successful in golf without being a great player. They both made a point in stating that golf is a business. For the next 4 months before I returned to my summer resort, Jim Bellington trained me in the business of the golf industry. I learned the retail operation of purchasing, merchandising and cost of sales. I learned the management of labor costs, operating costs and how they relate to revenues. I also was introduced in how to manage a profit and loss statement. Needles to say this was how I could become a successful PGA Professional.
I also want to mention the other three players that let me join their group on my first day at Camelback. The Tournament Coordinator was Scott Watkins who had just played 3 years on the PGA TOUR, the staff member who was picking the driving range was Dan Forsman who had just graduated from ASU and was awaiting the PGA TOUR’s Q-School. Dan went on to win $13M on the PGA TOUR. And the young junior golfer was Billy Mayfair. Billy grew up and then won $20M on the PGA TOUR.
Now almost 35 years later, Jim Bellington is a senior executive with Troon as a Senior Vice President and I have enjoyed 17 years with Troon managing 9 different Clubs in 4 different countries. What a great business this is!
MATT WARD: How did Troon become aware of Hot Springs Village?
RAY METZ: Troon is the world leader in 3rd party golf management. Hot Springs Village is a massive community with a changing business plan to market the community as a destination rather than a mundane retirement community. Troon’s marketing strength along with the renowned recognition of standards in both agronomy and service provided a perfect match to partner with Hot Springs Village. Showcasing the great golf experience to the regional and national golf market. Troon is now promoting not only golf in Hot Springs Village but the lifestyle present to residents of the community.
MW: Why the desire to take on the challenge in operating eight different golf courses under one roof?
RM: In showcasing the destination as one location, Hot Springs Village offers not only eight golf clubs, but eleven lakes, over thirty miles of nature trails, fitness center, tennis facility, pickle ball, pool amenities all under one roof known as Hot Springs Village.
MW: The golf market of today — post Great Recession — is in a far different place than it was prior to that happening. What was learned from that development?
RM: Golf courses overall have become more efficient. There are less associates at most golf clubs, but standards and service remain paramount at Troon properties. Golf operators are relying more on technology for customer feedback, forecasting, benchmarking, marketing, revenue management, sales, etc.
MW: Your immediate marketing efforts are concentrated on where?
RM: Troon recognizes four marketing segments are targeted. First, the local resident base with membership benefits to eight golf clubs. Second, the local and regional public golfer that offers golf on a repeat/regular basis. Third, the golf package traveler that offers golf as a destination on a frequent or annual basis with lodging options of rental homes within Hot Springs Village or hotel options at Embassy Suites in neighboring Hot Springs. Fourth the corporate/charity golf event base where golf at Hot Springs Village can host an annual golf outing.
MW: The genesis for Hot Springs Village was as a retirement community and servicing those recently retired and older. Now, there’s a desire to go beyond that emphasis area and be more of a major golfing destination for all ages. How do you expect to accomplish that?
RM: Troon’s marketing strength is brand recognition that exceeds the golf experience in both agronomy standards and service standards on a daily basis. With Troon’s support and guidance, the awareness of Hot Springs Village can expand to the local and regional golf market as a major destination in the South Central U.S. golf market.
MW: You’ve been an employee with Troon for a number of years – being the point person at several different properties throughout the USA. What drives you everyday in business and how do you sustain it?
RM: In maintaining the Troon standards and brand recognition for the current membership, along with the public golfer who now has access to the great golf in Hot Springs Village. Every member and every guest, is assured in enjoying an improved golf experience on a daily basis.
MW: The major golf organizations have come to the conclusion golf needs to make serious inroads with Millennials, women and minorities in order to broaden the base of players in the game. What’s your thoughts on how best to grow golf and keep it relevant in the 21st century?
Broadening the base of golfers is key to long term success in the industry. Troon courses all around the world are committed to this through several key initiatives. The first is Troon’s Get into Golf Program — which provides a low cost option for both men and women to learn the game. The program includes a one hour introductory golf clinic, Callaway golf balls, use of Callaway rental clubs and three holes of golf with an instructor. Secondly, is Troon Junior Club (TJC) — a program dedicated to growing the game with junior golfers. Members of the TJC enjoy access to Troon facilities worldwide at discounted rates, fun instructional programs, practice facility access and more.
Other ways we are growing the game with Millennials at Troon courses includes a relaxed dress code and chargers in carts allowing for music to be played from mobile devices. The introduction of GolfBoards and Golf Bikes have given both new and returning golfers different options to play the course, as well as using the golf course for FootGolf, rather than a traditional rounds of golf.
MW: Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
RM: Cannot comment — as I’ve been in positions where I was able to gain advice and guidance from many leaders and role models throughout my career.
MW: Customer service is constantly talked about by many — define the term and how Troon / Hot Springs Village goes about delivering it?
RM: Maintaining the cornerstone of Troon’s standard of Member For A Day. Every golfer needs your full attention from the time they arrive at the club until the time they depart the club. This attention is provided by every associate that the member/guest may see or not see during the time at the club.
MW: If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally what would it be and why?
RM: The change needed in attracting new golfers to this great game and industry in order to gain growth for future generations. Initiatives have been created in the past few years by the PGA of America, PGA professionals, Troon and a few others to grow the game and these initiative will need to continue to years to come.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?