Business Spotlight: Blue Heron Hill
A stately and verdant presence in northern Macedon, just off Canandaigua Road, The Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills is a hidden gem in our region. It features a championship-level course designed by Jack Nicklaus and others, a two-story clubhouse with a banquet facility, a pub-style restaurant, pro shop, and oak-appointed locker rooms.
31 Years of Golf
Blue Heron Hills opened in 1987, with a course designed by golf course architect Pete Craig and former Oak Hill superintendent Dick Bator, and including input from the “Golden Bear” himself, who played at the newly-opened course in an exhibition round. In the 1990s, Blue Heron Hills hosted the annual Hillside Skins Challenge, which drew golf greats such as Greg Norman, John Daly, Gary Player, and Arnold Palmer.
The course is semi-private, with day, 9-hole, senior, and junior/college rates for the casual player as well as membership packages that feature unlimited golf with no monthly fees and lots of amenities.
More than Golf
But there’s more to Blue Heron Hills than just golf. A favorite wedding reception and corporate event venue, the beautiful grounds are the perfect place for pictures and the ball room has seating for 225 people and a full bar.
The Gananda Pub is on the lower floor of the club house. This informal dining venue offers classic pub food and innovative entrees, from artichoke French to Buffalo chicken salad. It’s open to the public and features outdoor seating in the summer overlooking the greens.
Tom Mayberry has been the managing partner at Blue Heron Hills for about four years. He believes the unique layout of the course is one of its greatest selling points. “There are no parallel holes,” he says. “They’re all separate. Lots of golf courses, their holes are back and forth. But we have a unique layout.”
The Secret of Success … and the Challenges
One of the secrets of Blue Heron Hill’s success, Mayberry believes, is the history of the establishment. Having been established for more than 30 years, it is well-known and respected in the region. “It’s a mainstay in the Gananda/Walworth community,” he says.
One of the golf club’s biggest challenges, says Mayberry, is getting people in the doors. Their revenue is split more or less evenly between golfers and those using the facilities. A particular challenge is attracting young people and young families. To that end, Mayberry has run a number of ad campaigns, and currently offer reduced membership fees for young professional singles and families, as well as junior memberships for those 21 and younger.
For those who are new to the business/entrepreneurial world, Mayberry offers some valuable advice. “Don’t be under-capitalized when you start out,” he suggests. “And educate yourself as much as you can on accounting and finance. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but if you don’t know how to handle the financial end, you won’t succeed.”