After running several of the top golf courses in the Truckee Meadows, longtime golf course executive Mike Mazzaferri is about to embark upon his first foray into course ownership.
Mazzaferri, head of Mazz Golf Management Co., has tendered an offer to purchase Genoa Lakes Golf Resort in Genoa from owners Mario and Diane Antoci. The deal - terms weren't disclosed - is expected to close in mid-October.
Mazzaferri, who holds the management contract to run Sierra Sage Golf Course in Stead and is credited with turning that course around financially, first looked at purchasing the property in 2008. However, the economics of a purchase just weren't right at that time, he says.
Antoci had been trying to sell Genoa Lakes Resort for several years. He spent about $28 million on the two golf courses and building infrastructure since purchasing the Lakes course in 2000 and the Resort course in 2005.
The values of golf courses across the nation have followed the downward path of the residential real estate that often surrounds the properties. Some, such as D'Andrea and Northgate, closed as debt mounted.
Mazzaferri says turning a profit in the golf industry is a matter of increasing play on several different fronts and adjusting greens fees to make them more inline with what consumers are willing to spend in a struggling economy.
"We think it is very doable," he says. "A lot of golf courses around here have been doomed because of their debt, and though we are going into debt we can make it work with the amount of debt that we have."
Mazz Golf Management expects to purchase both 18-hole courses and will re-brand the Resort course as the Ranch course to remove the hoity-toity connotation. Mazzaferri says it's also crucial to get the course in as good as shape as possible. Last winter's dry weather wreaked havoc on the lush golf facilities at the base of the Sierra Nevada near Genoa. The main key to success, though, is Mazz Golf's ability to draw more players to the courses through a three-pronged effort to increasing local, visitor and membership rounds played.
Mazzaferri will evaluate staff when he takes over ownership, but he expects to retain longtime Director of Golf Lou Eiguren. Both courses typically close in October or November depending on the onset of wintry weather.
Mazzaferri says his lifetime of experience in golf course management also will help make the venture successful. He headed RedHawk in Sparks and Hidden Valley in Reno and managed City of Reno golf Courses.