It’s much more than golf. It’s a community mindset.

The Links at Brunello, located minutes from downtown Halifax in Timberlea, Nova Scotia, was built by Tom McBroom in 2015. McBroom’s ability to take inspiration from the landscape’s natural contours is what makes his courses unique and memorable.

The Links at Brunello was built with a community in mind and the “roots of his labour” have built a solid foundation for the community that is developing around it. The course and infrastructure continue to develop and mature to suit the needs of the community.

Credit for the construction of the course and, just as importantly, the idea of building a new community in Timberlea, falls to Rob and Glen Dexter. The property was what you would expect to find in the East coast — rocky and swampy. However, that did not deter the Dexters. They hired one of the best designers, Tom McBroom, and set out to develop a top-notch public golf course and supporting facilities, alongside an entire residential community. The expansive property is more than 520 acres, with 130 of them dedicated to the course. When the project is eventually complete, it will boast over 4,000 homes.
The course quickly received recognition and accolades, including being named the 3rd best new course in North America 2015, and continues to rank in Golf Digest’s and Score Golf’s top 50 public course categories.

Foodbuy spoke with Mike MacNeil, General Manger, to understand how they are adapting to the growth and how they are building a community. “It’s not just about golf here”, said MacNeil. “Our vision for the future of this course and community are all driven by the needs of the families that live here. We are looking to provide supporting infrastructure and activities for the entire community. Be it with our bike park, pickleball courts, soccer field, or along with a slate of ongoing weekly activities. We stay focused on the community as a whole, to be inclusive to all who live locally or visit from away.”

Our community had been asking for a restaurant and a place to gather with family and friends. Over the past couple years, we have added a restaurant and event facility for banquets and wedding and are now in discussions to add a Nordic Spa.”

When asked what MacNeil thinks is ahead for ’23, he pointed to demographics and events. Because of the impacts of the global pandemic, many courses including The Links at Brunello are now at, or near, capacity. One of the biggest changes facing operations was the shift in demographics to younger players and significantly more women, which is great to see.

“The age demographic that we are seeing now on a typical morning is a lot younger especially with the advent of work from home models. These changes in demographics will have an impact on our food and beverage offerings.”

A key part of our growth strategy will come through the growth of our community events. I see our marketing efforts mostly directed to this area. Golf will basically look after itself and, we are still waiting on tourism to fully bounce back.”

When discussing operational issues, staffing does remain as a concern. MacNeil pointed out that they do have one advantage with the facility being close to a university town. However, entry level positions are still hard to fill. He believes focusing on overall food and beverage growth will help drive additional revenues.

“I look to Foodbuy for help in this area. I feel I have someone in my corner, with my best interest in mind. Foodbuy helps me with menu ideas and overall supplier management. I also look for trend advice that I might not be seeing, versus what Foodbuy sees across many other courses. I want to be a step ahead versus a step behind.”

Looking further down the road, MacNeil feels that while golf continues to be on the rise, we will have to wait for 2025 to see how overall participation settles down. But, in the meantime, the Tee-sheet looks really good!

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