Will foreclosures continue to dominate the headlines?

Average: 2.8 (5 votes)

Golf course foreclosures or near foreclosures continue to dominate the headlines. Without question, they have fueled sales and helped more than a few management companies grow fat.

Almost three years after the economic collapse, one would think that most poorly performing courses would have worked their way through the system. But economic indicators are confusing:

The home market, which led to the development of many golf courses, continues to decline. In the U.S., unemployment remains high and the consumer confidence index has only inched up slightly. But there is good news — U.S. GDP grew by 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter, productivity is rising and inflation is very low.

So what does that mean for the golf industry?

Consumer confidence is probably the figure that matters most to golf courses. When consumers feel they have extra money, that they are safe, they will spend more discretionary income on things like memberships, travel and golf rounds.

Indeed, travel has rebounded. But golf rounds are off, and membership sales continue to struggle. Many now fear that the U.S. economy is sliding into a double dip recession.

Whether that technically happens or not, the private club industry will still struggle. Tax changes made in the Clinton years and demographic shifts have led to a new age for private clubs. And many are not adapting in time to fend off foreclosure.

It would be foolish for courses to hold out hoping that an economic recovery brings peace to their bottom line. Golf’s problems extend beyond that.

In the long run, it is good for the industry to get rid clubs that don’t adapt and replace them with owners or board of directors who will make the necessary changes. But it still would be better if clubs started making changes before they get foreclosed on.


Jack....I continue to see more clubs in foreclosure and up for sale. Many of the clubs who operated with a less than appropiate budget are floundering as their membership levels drop. I know of some here in Florida that have opened to the public to attempt to save them from foreclosure by the lenders, however, many of their members didnt agree with this tactic and have resigned. The property listings seem to have new additions all the time so I do not believe we are near the end of this adjustment in the golf industry. Best wishes Jay S. Porter, CCM

Jack You nailed it. Well written piece. It seems like building consensus with 8 or 10 board members can sometimes paralyze a clubs ability to adapt. Even in the best of times it's hard for "group think" to produce good results. Many clubs find themselves operating in a very difficult environment where they need to be nimble, creative and flexible but the structure of the club prevents this. The model of the last 100 years worked fine for many private clubs because they were either full, could raise dues or assess so these clubs did not have to change. But for those clubs that don't have this luxury today, I think adapting to survive for those who have stayed on the boat and haven't jumped ship is perfectly fine. Remember, nobody will eulogize a club that failed with "by golly they kept their chin up until the last gasp and they stayed the course and didn't try and change." That's silly. Imagine where Apple would be today if not for changing? Sure we can argue that without Microsoft's cash infusion of 205 million in 1997 they would be a dinosaur but that chapter hasn't been written...as least for awhile. It's okay to change a little to remain relevant for your existing members.

Jack, As a former resident in College Uni, I also concur with your analysis. The days of the "old school" country club mentality have to be hurting the bottom line! Do you think if more country clubs opened up a day or two to the public that it would ruin their mystique? Anyways, nice to hear from a familiar face. Remember Cricket? Ray Campbell. Unit C166 President GolfSteady, Inc http://www.golfsteady.com 310.948.1534
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