October 15, 2013
By Mark Janssen
The Colbert Hills Golf Course is in its 13th year and according to Jim Colbert, "We need to re-identify ourselves and find our niche in the market place."
Colbert went on to explain, "I think many view the golf course as one separate from the community. The reality is, we built this golf course for the community and the university."
What Colbert says he wants is "... for people to view us for what we are. We're a world class public golf course where everyone is welcome. We're not private at all. We're wide open to the public."
Steve Lambert was hired last month as the new general manager of the Kansas State University Golf Course Management and Research Foundation.
His mission statement: "We want to fine tune what we have here and consistently present a very professional operation. We want to provide excellent customer service. We're in the people business. Whether people are coming here to play golf, golf and dine, or just dine, we want them to leave with a positive image of who we are. We're hoping that the people who leave here will be our sales people to other individuals in the community and around the state."
A native of Sacramento, Calif., and graduate of Oregon State University, the 70-year-old Lambert returns to the Colbert family, which first started in the late-1970s as Colbert's caddy, and later was the first employee of Jim Colbert Golf Enterprises in Las Vegas, which he served for 17 years.
Prior to that, Lambert reached Lieutenant status in the Navy with 155 missions in Viet Nam from 1968 to 1970 on the USS Hancock where he had 255 air craft landings. The last two years he was in the cockpit of an F-4 Phantom flying in demonstration air shows as a part of the Blue Angels.
Today Lambert wants to see the same passion he had for flying with the staff of Colbert Hills.
"We have to get our staff to buy into the vision of outstanding customer service. It has to be their passion," said Lambert, who most recently was general manager of the Oakmont Country Club in Denton, Texas. "We have a tremendous golf course and a great clubhouse that we need to market and promote."
Lambert, who says he once was an 8-handicap golfer, but now is twice that, indicated that in 2012 there were 29,000 rounds of golf, which included 8,000-plus on the Par 3 course.
"We need to get that to 30,000 rounds on the Championship course. That's attainable," he said. "We have voids in our week. We're doing fine on the weekends, but Monday through Thursday are hit and miss. We have to get out in the community and build relationships and get people excited about coming here for corporate outings."
Lambert said that marketing plans will be put in place locally, along with all communities within a two-hour drive.
He added that while Colbert Hills has had a collection of wedding receptions, he added, "We can't let those just come to us. We have to go out and tell people what we have to offer."
Taking a page from the Bill Snyder playbook, he said, "The improvement doesn't have to be drastic tomorrow, but we want to be better each and every day. We need to do the little things that it takes to present a professional facility from picking up trash on the grounds to wanting our staff to introduce themselves to our customers.
"We're one of the great daily-fee golf courses in the Midwest," said Lambert of the 315-acres of golf. "That's our bait that we're dangling out there. We want people excited about coming here to play the course and then experience what we have in the clubhouse. We want to offer an experience where golfers and diners can't wait to come back again."
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, Mark Janssen or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.