The Els Club at Copperleaf is a big place – big in size, big in beauty, big in character and big in success. But this is not surprising as connected to this exciting golf development in Centurion near Pretoria are a number of really big names like Investec Bank; the ‘Big Easy’ Ernie Els – one of the great golfers of all time and South Africa’s most popular golfer; Toro and Club Car – amongst the famous brands in golf course equipment; and the man directing it all on a day-to-day basis Dave Usendorff – one of the legends of local golf.
Dave is a people’s person through and through and is effusive about the people who work for him and those who supply him. “I love my staff,” he says. “They’re a hard working bunch and do a great job. My suppliers too! Without them we’d have nothing,” he says.
One of those suppliers is Smith Power Equipment (SPE) – distributors in South Africa of Toro turf equipment and Club Car golf carts – whose relationship with Dave goes back a long way.
“Too long to remember!” Dave quips. “Look, Toro is one of the leading brands in the world and in my experience this is absolutely true. The technology is state-of-the-art and the machines are reliable and easy to operate. But most important the back-up service that we get from Steve Mangold and his Smith team is world class. In the end that is really what counts because while machines are working well life can go on but when you encounter problems is the real test and Smith has never let me down. They’re always prepared to go the extra mile,” Dave says.
He adds that when it came to the golf cart deal he called in three of the major suppliers and asked for a price. “All these suppliers have good carts and ultimately it came down to the best financial deal. Smith came back with an amazing offer and we had no hesitation in going forward with them. One of the obvious advantages is that now our turf equipment and the golf carts carts come from the same stable. This enables an even more efficient service which helps the bottom line.”
On the subject of bottom line Dave says it is no secret that Copperleaf started off slowly. “But when Investec took over, things changed and now we have one of the most successful golf estates and golf clubs in the country,” he says.
This is not pie in the sky. Copperleaf does about 40 000 rounds a year which is right up there with the busiest courses in the country and Dave says that they could have a lot more rounds but have made a decision to limit the amount of people playing on the course. “We have 500 members and we have 22 corporate members and we have to protect their interests. Our aim is to have a financially successful club but also one which is a social success and this requires balancing the numbers, which we are doing.”
SPE’s Stephen Mangold says that he is delighted to be supplying Usendorff and Copperleaf. “He is a professional operator and it is really a feather in our cap that we are able to service them in this way.”
“It is all about relationships,” says Usendorff. “Whether it is with the staff, the management, the owners or suppliers, the way to get the best out of people is to have an open and honest relationship with them and this is the case at Copperleaf and with Stephen Mangold and the Smith team and, of course, with Southern Turf Management (STM) who maintain the golf course,” he concluded.
Copperleaf has 70 Club Car golf carts and a full range of Toro equipment including walk-behind greens mowers, fairway mowers, utility vehicles and more.