Indiana Golf Office moving from Franklin to Indy, closing camp

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After 24 years in Franklin, the Indiana Golf Office—the umbrella organization for the state's most important golf-related associations—is planning to move north.

The group has listed its 51 acres and 24,000-square-foot building for sale for $2.5 million, IGO officials told IBJ on Monday.

IGO Executive Director Mike David said his organization is looking for a new home.

“Everything is on the table. I’m not going to say no to anything,” David said in an interview. “Logically, I would think our new location will be in Indianapolis or the north side of Indianapolis.”

The not-for-profit IGO is home to the Indiana PGA, the Indiana Golf Association, the Indiana Women's Golf Association, the Indiana Golf Foundation and the Indiana Junior Golf program.

The board that governs the IGO is looking to build or buy a 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot building to house offices, a boardroom and an Indiana Golf Hall of Fame gallery. David said the group has no debt and will use the proceeds from the sale to buy or build a new facility. 

“We are not going to make any move until we sell this property,” David said. “We are not in a rush to get this done, but we’re optimistic in the next year or two, we’ll get this done.”

The IGO is located just north of downtown Franklin, next to The Legends Golf Course. David said he's confident the property will draw attention.

“Our Realtor, me and my board are optimistic it will sell relatively quickly,” David said. “It’s close to the interstate, and there’s a lot of growth in this area.”

The idea to move materialized during the IGO's first-ever strategic planning process, which took place earlier this year.

“We came to the realization that we can be more effective with our financial and human resources,” David said.

The move, David explained, will allow his office to focus on expanding the growing First Tee of Indiana program. 

The First Tee is a national youth development program that focuses on introducing the game of golf and its core values to young people through after-school and in-school programs. It was founded in 1997, and the Indiana Golf Foundation took over the local chapter in 2012.

More than 65,000 young Hoosiers statewide will take part in the First Tee program this year alone, David said. He predicts a move north will spur more growth for the program and other golf initiatives.

“There’s certainly a belief by some that a visible Indianapolis location will resonate with donors and could lead to more marketing and sponsorship opportunities,” David said.

Because of the move, the Gongaware Junior Golf Academy will cease operations after this summer, David said. More than 5,000 junior golfers have attended the Gongaware Academy over the last 17 years, but attendance numbers have been in steady decline.

The number of campers attending four-day overnight camps at the golf academy dropped from 450 (which is capacity) in 2011 to fewer than 300 this year, David said.

“Camp competition has increased and the balanced year-round school calendar has taken its toll,” David said in a written comment. “In addition, the facility has become increasingly expensive to maintain, especially given the seasonality of the game and camps. All of these factors played a role in the decision to move.”

David said staffers that formerly worked on the overnight golf camp will be reassigned to focus on the First Tee program and other initiatives. The IGO has 10 full-time employees.

“While nothing will replace the special experience offered at the Gongaware Junior Golf Academy, we are excited about the opportunity for The First Tee of Indiana to reach even more youth golfers across the state,” David added. 

While David didn’t completely close the door on reviving the overnight golf camp at some point, he said it will definitely not be in operation next year—regardless if the Indiana Golf Office sells its current facility by next summer or not.

Statewide participation in the First Tee program, David said, has increased from 10,000 in 2012 to 65,000 this year.

“Even if we’re at 100 percent for our overnight camp, we’re putting a lot of resources into reaching 450 kids, while there are 65,000 with First Tee looming out there,” David said. “In the long run, we feel like kids can accomplish more in the six- to eight-week First Tee program than they could at a four-day overnight camp.” 

The Indiana Golf Office was located in Carmel before moving to Franklin in 1993.

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