A Stroke of Business Genius
Cannabis has long found itself on golf courses around the country – even before it was legal – but Rolling Greens is taking this concept to a new level, as North America’s first cannabis-themed golf and entertainment destination.
Located in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Rolling Greens is redefining the golf experience while simultaneously creating a unique venue for adult entertainment that will be used as a platform to educate the public about cannabis and its various forms and uses. The venue demonstrates how far reaching cannatourism can be.
When asked how Rolling Greens came to be, Director of Entertainment Gordon Weiske responded, “We were looking at different cannabis business opportunities outside of being a grower or a licensed dispensary. We wanted to focus on tourism and entertainment and that’s when we realized the golf course is the only business in Canada that allows both a liquor license and you can enjoy cannabis on site.”
A golf course was the only business model that seemed to fit the objectives of the leadership team. While they weren’t golfers, they were visionaries and when they started to investigate this idea further, they realized that there was a golf course for sale in the perfect locale.
“When we searched for golf courses for sale in Ontario, Lombard Glen happened to be up for sale. It happened to be in Smiths Falls, so we couldn’t ask for a better scenario,” said Weiske of the community’s willingness to embrace cannabis. The Mayor of Smiths Falls has even aspired to position the community as the cannabis “Capital of Canada,” as it is also home to Canopy Growth Corporation, which Rolling Greens looks to partner with in the future.
Weiske noted, “That’s how that came together and while we were doing it, we were having a great time,” which included naming the business. “We were laughing and coming up with all kinds of fun names and logos and somebody said, ‘Rolling Greens – come roll with us,’ and it was born at that moment.”
Rolling Greens is truly a stroke of business genius and the 164-acre property is chock-full of fun potential. While this year’s golf season got off to a slow start as the snow lingered into May, with frost and flooding causing serious damage to other courses in the area, Weiske noted that Rolling Greens was “on higher ground,” as it was one of the first to open and was spared any damage.
There are countless plays on words, as it seems golf is the perfect subject for cannabis humour. I’m sure you’ll hear golfers proclaim “Fore-twenty!” when teeing off – but for many, the game won’t change. Rolling Greens simply provides a cannabis-friendly venue for golfers at a time when some private clubs and courses around the country are outright prohibiting the use of cannabis on site.
While some things have stayed the same at Rolling Greens, much has changed. According to Weiske, “The course has always been a favourite in the area. When we took it over the original owners of Lombard Glen stayed on. They manage the course, but we want to make it a whole new experience for all of the people who have visited in the past, so when they walk in, they recognize right away something is different.”
Improvements have been made to the course itself, as well as changes to the interior and exterior of the clubhouse, for which Rolling Greens has something exciting planned, converting the clubhouse into a destination all its own. Rolling Greens has an agreement with Murray Bros. and when guests walk into the clubhouse it will be an immersive Murray Bros. Caddyshack® experience. For anyone who has watched the movie, it promises to be beyond your wildest imagination and once again, the first of its kind in Canada.
“It’s more than just a golf course; it’s a place to enjoy cannabis safely, get an education and have fun – really taking the starch out of golf and making it fun again,” for people of any age and from all walks of life. The goal is to make golf more casual and accommodating and to provide a safe place to consume cannabis responsibly.
Further to golf, Rolling Greens also offers disc golf, movie nights, music and entertainment. The goal is to make the golf experience more casual and flexible to meet the demands of those with careers, families and responsibilities. “We’re approaching golf differently than the traditional golf course. You know, people don’t have to come and play eighteen holes; we’re offering for people to play nine, [or to] pay for nine and play three and come back the next week,” explained Weiske, to appeal to a larger part of the population and improve access to the sport.
The leadership team at Rolling Greens sees not only an opportunity to entertain, but also a responsibility to educate. Weiske noted, “How we’re positioning ourselves is educating people on cannabis. This is especially important for seniors who have never tried cannabis before, who love golf and may have aches and pains. We’re there to answer their questions.” This is especially important when it comes to edibles and CBD.
Once CBD and edibles are available, Rolling Greens will be able to integrate cannabis and cannabis education into various levels of the business, from CBD roll-on products in the pro shop to tastings in the restaurant, where the company can include cannabis edibles on its menu. Eventually, it could even have its own licensed dispensary or grow operation on site. The possibilities are endless.
Further to opportunities to educate, Rolling Greens can serve as a controlled environment where research can take place. This is true not only of the summer when golf season is in full swing, but also in the winter months, using virtual golf in a controlled environment to test the efficacy of CBD and cannabis products and their impact on performance.
From scavenger hunts to festivals, tournaments and beyond, there will be no shortage of activity coming from Rolling Greens in the future and it will further drive demand for tourists to the Smiths Falls area. The leadership team is in talks with Canopy and other local businesses to find a way to work together to collaboratively promote cannatourism.
Weiske sees Rolling Greens as a franchise model and one that could help struggling public courses across the country and even into the United States when cannabis is legalized on a federal level. Calgary is a great example, as the city has been assessing the weak financial performance of its public golf courses; this could serve to turn those businesses around instead of getting out of the golf game.
“We see this as a franchise model and our partnership with Murray Bros. is for Canada, including the restaurant franchise, licensing and merchandise. So the Murray Bros. have two already and are opening up a third in the U.S., and we’re the first in Canada,” said Weiske, who believes this model could easily be applied to courses across the continent.
Rolling Greens has come a long way in only one season and if it can manage to pull off what it has in its inaugural season going forward, it will not only elevate the game of golf, it will revolutionize how people view cannatourism and what is possible.
Already a golf and adult entertainment venue of choice for locals and visitors from around the world, with its unique approach to golf, its commitment to education, and whimsical approach to food and entertainment, Rolling Greens stands to become Smiths Falls’ unofficial cannabis information and welcome centre and a model for the successful integration of cannabis into traditional business models.
On October 19th and 20th, 2019, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of legalization in Canada, Rolling Greens is hosting the Cannabis Cup and Disc Golf Tournament, a weekend that will celebrate how far the industry has come with special events, music, food and, of course, fun.
For more information about this or any other upcoming events or to book a tee time visit: www.rollinggreens.ca.