Golfers are playing about as many rounds in 2009 as they did in 2008. In fact, for the first three quarters of the year (January to September), rounds actually are about 0.5 percent higher this year than last, according to Golf Datatech’s National Rounds Played Report.
So why are so many course operators in default on their loans, filing for bankruptcy or just plain struggling to survive? Clearly, flat rounds numbers are not translating into flat revenue performance. The PGA of America’s PerformanceTrak statistics reflect that: Total median revenue per facility for the first nine months shows a drop of 5.1 percent. (Median means there are an equal number of courses with revenue below and above that total.)
A recent survey by the National Golf Foundation offers some clues as to what’s happening. The NGF quizzed 300 golfers about how they’re managing their cost per round given the current economic situation and came up with some conclusions that might help operators understand what’s going on with their customers.
Golfers are employing a variety of strategies to cut their costs: 61 percent are playing during off-peak days and times and 58 percent are playing less expensive courses, the NGF found. And 53 percent have cut food and beverage spending. They’re also walking more instead of paying for golf carts, buying less expensive equipment, tipping less and buying used instead of new golf balls.
We’d like to know if you’re seeing those same trends at your courses. How have playing patterns of your golfers changed over the past year? And how have you adjusted your operations to adapt to those shifting golfing patterns? Have you revamped your rate structure? Or provided added-value incentives for golfers? We would like to hear what you think about these critical issues.