Don’t let that Southern drawl fool you — Rock is one of the savviest golf course owners you’ll meet, thanks to a down-home, no-nonsense approach to business. Rock just so happens to be the president/operating partner of the 27-hole, semi-private Charwood Country Club.
When Rock was 9 years old, his father, Lester (L.C.), began transforming part of a family farm into a golf course. Since then, the younger Lucas has performed every duty at Charwood, from superintendent to short-order cook, all the while knowing that his individual efforts were contributing to a larger picture. Today, the collective product of that approach includes ownership in Charwood, more than a dozen LLCs, six commercial developments and four residential developments. He is also deeply involved in the future of his community, which includes serving as chairman of the Lexington County Planning Commission.
Time, of course, has presented obstacles and opportunities. Through the years, Lucas has experienced the evolution of golf from a game to a business, and one in which Lucas views specialization as the cornerstone of survival. “A lot of courses are finding a niche and capitalizing as much as possible rather than trying to be everything to everybody,” he notes. From most any perspective, Lucas has found Charwood’s place, and he unabashedly caters to that clientele. The club, which has approximately 200 members who account for 40 percent of the course’s play, hosts roughly 53,000 rounds annually, with a customer base that tilts toward the blue-collar sect.
“When I grew up, golf was considered ‘hoity-toity,’” says Lucas, who admits that Charwood “isn’t a championship course” but is a place where golfers can expect “consistent, good playing conditions” as well as three-and-a-half-hour rounds. “That’s one of the reasons we built this course and one of the reasons we’ve been successful. If people aren’t comfortable at your course, they’re not spending money.”
Making people feel comfortable is something in which Lucas and his entire staff take an immense amount of pride. A message on the club’s Web site says it all: If you need anything at all, whether from home, from the office, from the road or need a care package while out on the back nine, just call. After all, at the end of the day, we are just here to serve you. It’s also the reason, Lucas says, that through the flush years, he put just about everything that the business made back into the facility. “People would see that each time they came and appreciated that what they spent was going back into the course [rather than directly into Lucas’ back pocket],” he says.
Now that’s a rock-solid business plan.