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Quick Read: National golf group now runs St. Charles country clubs

Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 5:34 a.m. CDT

Royal Golf Group majority owner John Weiss elected to consult a figurative caddy about two years ago.

He aimed to keep golf affordable at his four courses while boosting membership at each one. So began the search for a management group.

Atlanta-based Sequoia Golf Group emerged as the lead candidate, and in March partnered with Weiss and Co., whose holdings include Royal Fox and Royal Hawk country clubs in St. Charles.

“We wanted to not only compete very competitively on a price level, but we want to offer more services. Better golf course, better amenitites than other clubs,” Weiss said. “We’re chosen on the basis of what we have to offer and not just on the price.”

Justin Baker, manager of Royal Fox and Royal Hawk, recently relocated from Atlanta, where he had worked for just under a decade. The Ohio native is eager to return to his Midwestern roots after taking stock of the facilities at both St. Charles courses.

While Baker has responsibilities to the group’s two other courses – Klein Creek Golf Club in Winfield and The Grove Country Club in Long Grove – he is based at Royal Fox.

With the weather beginning to turn (reluctantly) and more members getting outdoors for early-season rounds, Baker continues to launch into a communications blitz. In addition to polling players informally, he sent members an electronic survey that he hopes provides a solid base for corresponding moves in operations, marketing and other areas.

“You’re just trying to gather feedback on things they’re happy with, things they’re dissatisfied with,” Baker said. “That’s in order to kind of one, develop the strong areas so that you can build on them and two, identify areas of improvement so that you can begin to develop plans for those.”

Sequoia now owns or operates more than 45 golf facilities nationwide, including club, resort and public courses.

Weiss is confident the arrangement will help his courses gain ground in a competitive regional atmosphere. Membership plans at the St. Charles courses start at $295 monthly, designed for young executives or baby boomers with an interest or availability in playing at limited times.

“Not much has changed outside of Sequoia being involved in order to kind of drive the ship behind the scenes,” Baker said.

The Royal Golf Group started in 1999, when Weiss and his partners purchased Royal Fox. In 2004, the group acquired what was then Blackhawk Golf Club, a public course. Officials renamed the property Royal Hawk and turned it into a private club a year later.

SCC streaking: Marmion extended a pair of lengthy Suburban Christian Conference championship streaks this week, claiming the league’s boys tennis crown for a fifth successive season and its boys track title for an eighth straight year.

On Wednesday, the track team topped host Aurora Central Catholic, 177-129, in the 11-team event behind a deep attack. The Cadets’ winners included individuals John Graft (1,600 meters), Tyler Maryanski (high jump) and Isaiah Brown (long jump), plus the 4x800 and 4x400 relays.

North alum shines for BYU men’s v’ball: Brigham Young senior middle blocker Russ Lavaja, a St. Charles North alumnus, contributed eight kills and three blocks Saturday as the Cougars lost to California-Irvine in the national championship match.

BYU fell, 23-25, 22-25, 24-26, at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in its bid for a fourth national title. The Cougars’ most recent championship came in 2004.

An economics major, Lavaja is married to his wife, Kaity. His career high for kills in a match is 13, accomplished twice.

• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com.

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