The ArrowCreek Club, a private establishment in Reno, Nevada, is thriving, but that hasn’t always been the case.
The club, which has two courses – the Challenge Course (designed by Fuzzy Zoeller with John Harbottle) and the Legend Course (designed by Arnold Palmer) – has endured its share of financial troubles, filing for Chapter 11 once and being just about almost a month from insolvency on the other. In 2014, a group of around 50 local investors took over the club, but they didn’t fare much better.
Finally, in 2018, Ray Conrad and his wife, Jeanne, themselves members since 2014, bought the property.
Conrad, who ran the nation’s second-largest background check company for more than two decades, quickly put his business savvy to work, and things have been going in the right direction ever since.
“Before we did this, you didn’t want to take another couple there for dinner because you never knew how it was going to be,” Conrad said. “Now it’s a place I can walk and I’m very proud of.”
Straightening a struggling golf club is never an easy task and no two straightenings are the same, but ArrowCreek’s revival offers insight into the investment and commitment required.
“Our owners’ philosophy,” said Jim Cleary, General Manager, “was to elevate the member experience to be best-in-class in the Reno market, but not just on the golf side. .”
The club, which sits in a community of over 1,000 homes, recently completed a $60 million expansion/upgrade encompassing both courses, the clubhouse and a host of amenities.
New attractions include a fitness center, swimming pool, additional restaurants, a children’s playroom and 40,000 square feet of meeting space. In a few weeks, construction of the indoor pickleball facilities will be complete – four air-conditioned indoor courts.
As for the golf courses themselves, the Conrads have invested approximately $5 million, including replacing thousands of sprinkler heads and purchasing new fairway mowers and other maintenance equipment.
Plans are also underway, Cleary said, to hire a course designer to do a full assessment and reinvent the layouts.
Improving its golf offering is one of ArrowCreek’s primary goals. With guidance from the Troon Company, which helps maintain the facility, Conrad is optimistic that the courses will soon be recognized nationally.
“They’re evaluating the courses right now,” Conrad said of Troon. “They are going to work on the greens and the fairways.”
Conrad was one of the investors in 2014 who hoped to help the club recover from their initial difficulties.
“That place was in ruins,” he recalls. “Nothing worked. Nothing was fixed.”
There was talk, he said, of closing one of the courses to cut expenses.
Conrad soon realized that the money invested by local investors – around $5 million – wasn’t going to be enough, and golf alone wasn’t going to make the place work.
The only way Conrad would see the club survive, he said, was to add a banquet hall for weddings and other events, and improve the restaurants to generate additional revenue. The club recruited chefs from Washington, DC, Orlando and California.
“Probably nothing else in Reno compares to this,” Conrad said.
Another of Conrad’s priorities: to ensure that each of the investors gets their money back.
“My purpose in doing this,” he said, “is that I knew I would make a difference – I had turned businesses all my life – and I didn’t want people to say I stole the place.”
At one point, the club was down to 300 members. Today, it has more than 800. The departures have filled up, the club’s coffers too.
“We’re at the point where it’s about breaking even,” Conrad said, “and as we continue to grow membership, we’ll be in the black.”
Into the dark, and back on track.