Customer loyalty recognized at Fortune Bay's Wilderness course

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TOWER, Minn. - The National Golf Foundation extended the geographic scope of its annual survey, yet Fortune Bay's Wilderness Golf Course still snagged one of its coveted customer loyalty awards.

The Wilderness won 2007 Top 5 Facility for overall customer loyalty by outscoring more than 75 public golf courses across the globe on 14 service factors, ranging from scenery to the conditions of the greens, plus tee-time availability and pace of play.

The awards are based on surveys fielded through NGF's online Golfer Survey program. In it, golfers indicate how likely they would be to recommend a particular golf course to a friend or colleague. Golfers also grade each course's amenities, on-course services, staff friendliness and overall value, among other criteria. The most recommended facilities are being honored.

''This means a lot to us,'' said Wilderness General Manager Tom Beaudry. ''Earning customer loyalty is our top priority. It is the highest compliment and the surest sign that we're doing our jobs right.

''Economically, it's also encouraging,'' he added. ''Golf courses with higher loyalty enjoy increased rounds played and revenues.''

Indeed, rounds played at the Wilderness have steadily increased since its 2004 opening, bucking the national trend of a 3.2 percent decrease in rounds played per golf course since 2001.

This prestigious national award comes on the heels of a formidable regional one: Golf Minnesota named The Wilderness the 2008 Resort of the Year. Golf Minnesota noted the breadth of Fortune Bay's offerings.

''In addition to the extremely impressive golf, the Fortune Bay property offers everything you would look for in a casino resort,'' the magazine states, noting the comfortable rooms and conference center, full-service marina, indoor heated pool and whirlpool, exercise room, action-packed casino and five on-site places to dine or drink. ''The golf course is truly designed as both a championship test for good players and a course anyone can enjoy,'' the magazine notes.

That observation reinforces the customer loyalty award, Beaudry said.

''We're thrilled when pros enjoy our course, but our overarching goal is that every golfer - whoever they are, whatever their level is - will leave our course having had a good experience, eager to return and happy to recommend it.''

The Wilderness, located three hours north of Minneapolis in northeast Minnesota, was unveiled by nationally renowned golf course architect Jeffrey D. Brauer. The 18-hole Wilderness has garnered several major awards since it opened, including Best Course You Can Play In Minnesota 2007, Golfweek; America's Best New Upscale Public Courses for 2006, Golf Digest; Top 10 Best New Places to Play, Golf Magazine; and 10 Best New Public/Resort Courses in America, Travel & Leisure Golf.

It is owned and operated by the Bois Forte Band of the Chippewa.