Wayne McBean was the fourth overall pick in the 1987 National Hockey League draft, and spent six season’s in at the top level of play in his sport. But it’s in another sport altogether — golf — that the former professional hockey player has found post-hockey success.
McBean, along with his brother Lloyd and a group of investors, purchased Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa in 2008, he said.
“We thought it was a good business move, and we put together the group,” McBean said of purchasing the club before it went into receivership.
The ownership group has since spent about $3 million in renovations and improvements on Las Sendas, McBean said, including a 12,000-square-foot wedding and banquet facility scheduled to open in the early part of 2013.
McBean already had experience owning and running a golf club. After he retired from the NHL, he and his brother bought a golf club in Calgary. Lloyd also worked as a golf professional, so the brothers had knowledge of the industry when they linked together in the golf business nearly 19 years ago.
McBean spent three years as a member of Las Sendas before he decided to buy it, he said. His experience as a member helped him see what needed to be improved.
Improvements have included the installation of cart paths, the addition of bathrooms and snack bars throughout the course and the addition of a pro shop and locker rooms, McBean said.
Ryan Burke is the golf operations manager at the facility, located in the northeast corner of the city near Power and Thomas Roads. He said that the ownership group has the experience and vision to improve Las Sendas.
“They know what it takes to make a successful golf course,” Burke said.
The new ownership has added amenities to the course beyond the basics, Burke added. Its driving range has expanded and now has both natural grass and artificial turf, which is used on days with frost delays.
Burke said that while the average for successful clubs in the Valley is booking about 40,000 rounds each year, Las Sendas currently books about 50,000 rounds annually.
One of Las Sendas’ biggest successes is its restaurant, which has doubled in size since the change in ownership, McBean said. It now draws customers from outside the club.
“Almost every single patron is a non-golfer,” McBean said of a typical nightly crowd at the Grill and the Patio.
One of the biggest challenges for the new ownership group has been getting the community back, McBean said. He said the previous owners largely ignored the full-time residents in the community and focused only on snowbirds.
Las Sendas has shifted its focus back on residents, McBean said. The goal is to reach out to the Las Sendas community, then to Mesa residents and finally to the entire Valley.
McBean said that his hockey experience helped him transfer into the business world and deal with the challenges of running Las Sendas.
“It teaches you hard work,” McBean said about hockey. “Winning is hard work.”
McBean wants to create a work atmosphere similar to his time in the NHL. Employees should want to come to work each day much like he wanted to get to the rink each day to be around his teammates.
The goal for the future is to turn La Sendas into a private golf club when it reaches 350 members, McBean said. It currently has 132 members.
Even with the change, the restaurant and banquet hall would still remain open to the public, McBean said.