By Joe Morey
The Big Fish Golf Club is finishing out its inaugural season under Lac Courte Oreilles tribal ownership on October 31 with a decent profit. As of Sep. 30, the course made $65,057 in net income for the 2019 season.
The tribe initially began the 2019 season by investing $200,000 start-up capital. Early in the season, the course used about $60,000 for purchases of new equipment and other supplies. The rest was to be used for payroll and operations, if needed. The bank balance remains just over $200,000, reported Indy Thompson, Big Fish Golf Director.
Thompson also reported course conditions saw great progress throughout the 2019 season. “This is the best I’ve ever seen the conditions of Big Fish.”
Thompson noted that guests are very happy with the greens.
“Many members and guests who have been playing the course since it opened have said that this is the best the course has looked since it opened,” Thompson stated. “We’re very proud of this.”
Thompson noted the course is currently ranked #15 in Wisconsin by Golfweek Magazine, but, “We could be a top 10 course within a few years if we put money into it and get the right people in place. We plan to increase our customer service to better compete in the local market.”
Thompson was hired in October of last year by the previous owner to be golf director. He graduated in May with a degree in golf course management and a minor in business administration from UW-Stout. He just finished his first full year in the position.
“It was a good year. I’m thankful that the tribe gave me this opportunity to live out my dream. It’s been real fun,” Thompson stated. “In high school at Chetek I won the Scott Miller Invitational at Big Fish so it’s always been a dream to be here. I love the area and it’s close to home for me.”
In an earlier report to the Big Fish Board of Directors, Thompson said the numbers this year would have been higher had it not been for so many rain days. There has been a significant increase in rain-out days for the course this year.
The LCO Tribe purchased the Big Fish Golf Club using the community investment funds from LCO Financial Services and also provided $200,000 as start-up capital from those same funds.
A new marketing plan has been put together and will be initiated in the off-season which should help create higher numbers next year, according to Thompson.
New signage is being placed at the entrance on Hwy B which Thompson said will put Big Fish ahead of any other golf course in northern Wisconsin.
“We’re working with Scott Berseth from Stratford Sign Company. He’s visited the site many times,” Thompson said. He’s also talked with him about advertisements on the rocks next to the tees.
Thompson said he liked the renderings for the new sign and it will also say Owned and Operated by the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Ojibwe.
Thompson shared that tribal members receive a 20% discount on all merchandise (hats, shoes, apparel) in the shop excluding golf balls, gloves, and accessories.
“These can be purchased by calling me at 715-642-2827 for the most direct and quick response. If they don't want to call me, they can call the golf shop at 715-934-4770 and we will get back to them,” Thompson stated.
Beginning on Nov. 1st, a membership discount will be offered to tribal members if purchased by Dec. 2, and Thompson noted, payroll deduction can be used and won’t start till January.
“They will have the option to go until the end of the year. This is good for any membership,” Thompson said.
In the membership descriptions below, Peak memberships are good for all day, regardless of time or holiday and Off-peak memberships are good 2 pm or after any day of the week. All of these options include a cart as well.
Membership Promo (Peak options): November 1st - December 2nd - Peak Single: $800, Peak Couples: 1400, Peak Family (Up to 2 adults and 2 children): 1500, Junior: 250
Membership Promo (Off-peak options): November 1st - December 2nd - Off-peak single: $500, Off-peak couples: 1000, Off-peak family(Up to 2 adults and 2 children): 1100, Junior: 150
Memberships for the 2020 season: December 3rd - no end date - Peak single: $900, Off-peak single: 600, Peak couples: 1,700, Off peak couples: 1,200, Peak family (Up to 2 adults and 2 children): 1,750, Off-peak family (Up to 2 adults and 2 children): 1,300, Junior: 250