I have been a resident of Dennis, Cape Cod, MA for the past 20 years and, though I have a degree in History and Secondary Education, and worked a short while as a High School Social Studies Teacher, I have been employed by the Town for the Past 15 years. I joined Dennis Golf in 2012 as the Office Manager and assist the Director of Golf in all areas of the business as a part of an amazing management team.
I was fortunate enough to join this team in an Administrative role in 2012. My love for the game of golf and desire to know our members and guests on a personal level have made this job an incredible experience. The Management Team at Dennis Golf is top notch, and, brings an incredible dynamic to the Dennis Pines and Dennis Highlands Golf Courses. We have a very knowledgeable Director in Michael Cummings, who, for the past 30+ years has worked in the industry and provides a very detailed skill set that makes these golf courses thrive. His demonstrated leadership has been nothing less than outstanding and he is well respected by members, guests and employees alike. Both Superintendents, George Fairbanks at the Highlands, and Brian Campbell at the Pines, are incredibly dedicated and the courses would never look as great as they do without both theirs, and their staff’s, hard work. We also have our PGA Professional, Mike Pry, who knows the game and is willing and able to share his expertise to those around him at any given point. Our Operations Manager, Kyle Stead, has been working for Dennis Golf for the past eight years, and his love of the game has motivated the membership, guests and employees to work and play at their very best. Even our part-time staff is made up of people who bring a wide array of experience, and their knowledge and expertise have made, what I consider, Dennis Golf to be the premier public golf experience.
MATT WARD: How would you characterize the 2016 golf season thus far?
Maryellen Fabiano-Stowe: The 2016 season, so far, has been outstanding. The mild winter allowed our season to begin much earlier than other courses in New England. Dennis Pines, along with Dennis Highlands, has seen an increase in play over the past year and we attribute this to our excellent grounds crew, staff and recent investment into the facility itself. Dennis Pines was even lucky enough to be able to hold a USGA Senior Qualifier this past June — quite an honor for a public facility.
MW: What key lessons did many golf facilities learn following The Great Recession of ’07-’08?
MFS: I think, for the most part — being a municipal golf course — we were not as affected by the Great Recession as those in the private sector. Sure, everyone felt the pinch; but, because we are a public course, we were able to keep our prices competitive. Even in tough times, golfers were still able to enjoy the game because of facilities like these.
MW: What makes golf on Cape Cod so special?
MFS: Cape Cod is such a great vacation destination. The weather during all seasons is ideal for golf. In times when it is so hot, the Cape is generally cooler, being on the water, making your outing that more enjoyable. And in the winter, usually, it is much milder here, making the season a little longer than the remainder of New England. Plus, given all the great places to stay and eat, Cape Cod is the total package stay, play, and dine.
MW: How do you go about the process in differentiating what you provide when compared to your competition?
MFS: I think there are a few things we do to remain competitive. One key in this specific industry is finding the right balance between member and guest play, and making sure both groups are equally satisfied. In a shrinking golfer population, customer service is paramount. And, we are constantly looking at ways to re-invest in this business to offer a top-notch product, including our recent renovations to the courses themselves and proposed clubhouse renovations.
MW: What specific steps are you taking to build customer loyalty?
MFS: Again, we pride ourselves on offering an excellent product. Our Mission Statement for Dennis Golf is to provide the maximum golf enjoyment for as many people as possible at a cost competitive with the surrounding area, and meeting the customer’s expectations every time.
MW: How much of your core golf business is with Millennials — those who are 40 year old and younger?
MFS: It is a lot less than it used to be, which is concerning to us; but, we are always thinking of new ways to draw attention to this demographic.
MW: What proactive steps are you taking to attract and keep them?
MFS: We keep our prices competitive with the surrounding golf courses, both for greens fees and membership rates. Plus, we have made vast improvements to the courses themselves, making golfing here easier and more enjoyable, taking less time to play. We also are utilizing social media to reach out to this age group in general, being very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and doing a complete overhaul on our website. We love that Like and Share Button!
MW: Are there enough players in the golf pipeline to justify the continuation for all the golf courses that exist on Cape Cod?
MFS: Well, that is part of our mission: to engage the younger golfers. We offer both free Junior Clinics run by Mike Pry and member volunteers, and we participate in a Junior PGA program, both of which have thrived over the years. So long as there are programs such as these, we believe there will always be enough golfers to continue to exist here on the Cape.
MW: Best advice you ever received — who from and what was it?
MFS: Personally, I would not love this business if it weren’t for the Director here. Mike Cummings has served as my mentor, and someone I have come to rely on and respect. His best advice to me is to pay close attention to the people and the trends, work as a team, and to be proactive in all facets, rather than reactive. I think because of his proactive approach, and our ability to work so well together, Dennis Golf is so successful. I think this advice is useful, not just for the golf industry, but for everyday living.
MW: If you could change one thing in the golf industry unilaterally — what would it be?
MFS: We would love to change the perception that golf is an “elitist’ sport. Golf is, and should be, welcoming to all skill levels. No matter who you are, there is room for improvement. But, it is a game that offers fun and takes discipline. And everyone can enjoy it when there are great places available, such as our course offerings here in Dennis.