Advisers of the Year

The pandemic was a game changer. Owners and operators faced an array of challenges, some of which erupted overnight. But consultants were at the ready to help.


Dale Barger,
CEO of Asset Intelligence Group

When courses began to see more demand, many operators worried how they would keep their courses in peak shape. Since more people were using the courses, they needed more maintenance, and the machinery needed to keep the greens in tip-top shape were being used more frequently. 

It was Barger’s business to the rescue. One of his services is Golf Marketplace, in which maintenance equipment and other golf-related goods are auctioned. The demand soared because many manufacturers were idled by the pandemic. If an operator wanted to do a trade-in for newer goods, he couldn’t. There was no inventory. 

“Everybody came to us for equipment,” Barger said. “We fed the industry the assets they couldn’t get.”

Golf courses owners and operators have dealt with all sorts of wrecking-ball-like challenges over the years, from hurricanes to droughts to wildfires to recessions.

Then came a wrecking ball the size of a molecule, but with a force like no other. That’s why advisers and consultants were needed more than ever when COVID-19 began its run. These are people who are used to pivoting fast and coming up with creative solutions. 

Yes, golf ultimately saw a boom in play because it offered a safe refuge from a weary, shelter-in-place world, but golf is only one part of the equation. Food & beverage took a hit because of indoor dining restrictions. Pro shops? Many were shuttered.

When the world throws you that kind of a curveball, what do you do? There is no how-to manual or built-in strategy for golf course owners and operators to handle global contagion.

Golf operations had to be re-thought on the fly. Tee times had to be scheduled remotely. More thorough cleaning standards had to be implemented. Social distancing was required.

Given the array of challenges, Golf Inc. magazine thought it would be fitting to honor consultants who went above and beyond during one of golf ’s most pressing years. We asked readers for nominations and chose several who received significant praise for their work.

It’s a unique business model and quite important. Many smaller operators can’t afford new equipment, which can run in the six figures. So, they turn to Barger’s market.

“You have to realize that some of these smaller operators are only making $60,000 a year,” he said.

As one person who nominated Barger noted: “Dale’s company makes it possible for smaller businesses with a limited budget to afford quality equipment to maintain their grounds. It also allows those companies to turn their older equipment into cash in a timely manner.”

Barger also runs several related businesses, such as liquidation and valuation services. 

He said his inspiration is the late golf legend Arnold Palmer, who helped him get his start. Barger had been a plant operation manager for Pepsi. Palmer introduced him to the golf cart business. He then started a firm that distributed golf carts and equipment throughout the Midwest. 

Golf is in his blood — well, sort of. “I’ve always wanted to be in the golf business, even if I do happen to suck at golf,” he quipped.

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