In its effort to promote Thoroughbred racing, a Jessamine County horse farm plans to incorporate a neighboring golf course into its public tours.
“We see it as another income stream,” said Duncan Taylor, president and CEO of Taylor Made. Taylor and Jerry Felix, vice president of administration and chief financial officer for Taylor Made, are listed as managers of High Point Golf LLC.
Taylor Made is a leading consigner of Thoroughbreds sold at auction. Last year, the company closed a deal to buy 30 percent in California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year. American Pharoah, the 2015 Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, spent time as a yearling at Taylor Made.
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Taylor Made is a member of Horse Country Inc., a nonprofit coalition of Central Kentucky farms, clinics and others that have joined forces to promote the development of fans in Thoroughbred racing. This is the first full year in which Horse Country has had tours, and since February nearly 1,000 people have booked to tour Taylor Made, Duncan Taylor said.
Taylor described his desire to use the golf course, which is across Union Mill Road (Ky. 169) from the farm, as a kind of launching place for people to start their tours.
“The tour guides can go over there, meet the people, and they can watch a video on the farm while they’re waiting,” Taylor said. “And then they’ll go from there to the farm to tour. If they’re waiting here at the (farm) office, we don’t have a place where they can get a snack or a Coke or a beer.”
The golf course, built in a subdivision of 44 upscale homes, opened in 1993. It was previously owned by a company called Even Par Inc. whose president was an Evansville, Ind., surgeon named Dr. Cary L. Hanni.
Taylor Made brought in Chris Boysel, former golf pro at Duckers Lake Golf Club in Franklin County, to manage the Jessamine club. Boysel, 33, of Nicholasville, is making changes to attract the general public to Thoroughbred Golf Club.
Jessamine County has a wealth of golf courses, such as Connemara, Lone Oak, Golf Club of the Bluegrass and Keene Trace (the combined Keene Run and Champion Trace courses). Plans were resurrected last fall for a long-delayed Jack Nicklaus-designed course off U.S. 68 near Wilmore.
But Thoroughbred Golf Club is not on a major artery like U.S. 68 or U.S. 27, so it needs to do a little more marketing to set it apart from competitors.
Boysel said he is trying to have more scheduled events and tournaments “rather than just sitting here hoping that people will call and make tee times.”
He’s also incorporating suggestions from a PGA of America guidebook to improve the playing experience for all golfers.
“We’re not telling you what tee to play from,” Boysel said. “You play where you want to play from. We want men to play from the forward tee and ladies to play from the back, if that’s what’s enjoyable for them. America is a free country; you can do that.
“At the end of the day, this is entertainment and this is fun, so that’s what we need to be here for,” Boysel said. “We’re trying to make it as fun as we can for everybody.”
Physical improvements are also being made to the course, which has increased its budget to control weeds and fertilize. There are plans to put a bar and grill at the pro shop. (In a 2009 precinct election, voters approved the sale of alcohol by the drink on the golf course property.)
“It’s always been a fairly nice course with character,” said Bill Nicodemus, 61, who has played the course since it opened. “But they’re basically making it a little nicer and trying to do some things to help the fairways. It’s a course that every level can play from different tees. They’ve got it set up so that no matter what level you are, you can play this course. So it’s a challenge to everybody, but also fair to everybody. That’s what I like about it.”
Other changes will reflect the new owners. For example, Boysel said there has been talk of naming each hole for Taylor Made’s famous horses.
Duncan Taylor mentioned the idea of putting a mobile phone readable bar code at each hole so a player could get information about each horse and the hole.
“We were thinking about how are we going to make our tour more entertaining, and we were thinking about some of those QR codes,” Taylor said.
It perhaps made sense for Taylor Made to get into the golf business because, as Duncan Taylor noted, many people get the horse farm confused with TaylorMade golf clubs.
“It’s funny, because even before we had a golf course, people would say, ‘Are you the golf clubs?’”