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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Stafford EDA updated on Virginia Golf Trail progress

Stafford County’s Economic Development Authority got an update on the progress of the Virginia Golf Trail at its meeting this afternoon from Terrance Gleason, the trail’s chief operations officer.

Cannon Ridge Golf Club in Stafford’s Celebrate Virginia North development is the trail’s headquarters, and Stafford’s government and EDA put up $100,000 in seed money to help get it started. Click here for the article we did about the announcement of the trail in October.

Gleason said the trail has attracted 26 golf courses during its first six months. Click here for the full list. There are also hotels and wineries. The trail is trying to attract 36 courses and is targeting clubs such as The Homestead, Primland, Kingsmill and Golden Horseshoe. It’s patterned after Alabama’s successful Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The courses pay to participate in the program.

Gleason said the trail, whose customers can book trips through the website, is having the type of initial challenges most startups face and is not yet cash-flow positive. But he said he’s pleased with the web traffic from the trail’s $150,000 ad campaign in golf publications and on Facebook. The trail’s owners have been contributing additional money to plug the gaps, and a $25,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corp. is anticipated. He said the trail has about an $829,000 annual budget, about 23 percent of which is for paying staff. 

Stafford provided the $100,000 grant to support the trail’s early development and to receive exposure from the advertising campaign. The funding is coming in three equal parts from Stafford’s Tourism Fund, EDA and newly created Opportunity Fund. The trail has received the one-third portions from the first two and is expecting the remaining funds from the latter soon. 

The EDA reminded Gleason today that the trail would need to pay Stafford back if it’s not viable within a couple of years. Gleason said he was well-aware of that.

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  • GolfingSupervisor

    What the Va Golf Trail really needs is a Stafford Supervisor who plays golf to truly appreciate what it is they are trying to do.

  • Scott Green

    Thanks for the follow-up article. I’m not surprised they’re finding it challenging — there are dozens of golf trails in the US, so it’s hard to make a splash just by creating another one. You have to offer something really unique, or pour a lot of cash into building a brand.

    Unfortunately, the Virginia Golf Trail currently doesn’t offer anything unique — nor does it include ANY of Virginia’s 15 best public courses, at least as defined by Golf magazine.

    Here’s an article we wrote when the trail was first announced, suggesting that this might be very challenging: