Is golf doing better than we thought?

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Some of who attended the Golf Inc. Conference held at the World Golf Village earlier this month may have been surprised by the level of optimism among the leaders of our great industry.
During the State of the Industry panel, which included an all-star panel made up of well-respected CEOs Joe Steranka of the PGA of America, Steve Mona of the World Golf Foundation, Mark Woodward of the Golf Course Superintendents Association and James Singerling of the Club Managers Association of America, the participants voiced a cautious but unmistakable message of positivity. (You can find a summary of their comments in a story on this Web site. Click Here to read complete story.)
Their message: “Sure, we’re down as an industry right now, but most segments of the American economy are a lot worse off than we are. There’s no reason to push the panic button.”  

Now some might expect these leaders to try to put a positive spin on even the worst situations. But is that kind of optimism warranted? Do you agree that for all its struggles, the golf industry as a whole is weathering the recession fairly well? Many courses around the country are just now entering their prime time for play. How is your course or company dealing with the difficult economy and what kind of season are you expecting?  


If it gets any worse in northern ohio we will be playing for free.We have clubs selling memberships for $200 for 2 Years.

Do any of these "industry leaders" have any any "skin in the game" and have to pay the bills at a golf course. If they do not, their thoughts on real world business issues are lacking.

All too many operators and golfers are panicing based on what "the news" is stating. Please. Newspapers, TV, radio and media in general are working hard to make out a "dooms day" scenario so people stay home, watch more TV, buy more papers and fret about the state of the union. Meanwhile, our course is selling more equipment than ever and entertaining more guests to this point in the young season. We have NOT discounted and laugh at those that are. Nice work boys - give it away to the players who already would have payed at full rate. What are you gaining? Operators beware - you are setting yourself up for every year to come. Good luck. Meanwhile, we'll stay on top of the heap by providing consistent quality.

Private clubs are in terrible shape, almost averywhere. Waiting lists are a thing of the past, and will NEVER return. The trend has been downward for a very long time, but no one would admit it publicly. The current economy has made it a little easier to at least talk openly about membership problems that are serious and pervasive, and it's not going to improve for a long time in many areas of the country. Unfortunately, much of this is self induced by boards and complacent management. Sad, but true.

We are seeing an uptick at our mid price and high end daily fee clubs. Consumers have more time to play while working less hours. Attrition from the private clubs is helping our daily fees. Grip it, rip it!

RE: "Private clubs are in terrible shape, almost averywhere. Waiting lists are a thing of the past, and will NEVER return." Talk about reactionary - I look at well over 100 private clubs a year and there are some that are doing things the right way and are thriving. That's right, thriving...and at a variety of price points - high end, low end and in the middle. Are there clubs in trouble...absolutely. But to make such a blanket statement like this is completely irresponsible. This person either has no real clue what going on in the industry at large or has another agenda they're trying to promote. Overall, the private club segment is certainly going through some pain and must adjust accordingly. But there are significant numbers who are still doing well because they are doing a good job of understanding their markets and their members. And to say that waiting lists will NEVER return demonstrates this writer's bias and/or misunderstandings of market dynamics and fluctuations.

While I understand many parts of the country are facing tough economic times, the Dallas/Ft. Worth market is actually doing fairly well, especially at the middle to upper end country clubs. Our membership has actually grown over the past 6 months. Although the dollar per player has somewhat gone down a little (less on the pro shop and F & B), overall, we are still on pace to have a good year. It is extremely important during these times that we stay very pro-active in our day to day affairs, and remember to always focus on the membership and provide the best possible service to all of our members. The US has been in economic woes in the past, and we have always bounced back. In 2009, this is not an exception. Private clubs have always been around, and will continue to be around long after the current state that we are in.

Golf: - Who Gets What Ball? When? and Where? Question: Golf ball surveys - do they educate? Do they inform? How seriously do golfers take their practice? How do you keep your practice and play connected in the golf arena? Have you noticed golf’s separate facilities: the golf course and the golf range, which detach golf ball “feel” from a resourceful education? Golf, unlike almost all sports does not share the same place to do both: practice and play! The experience is divided. Is this a bad thing? You could say that your clubs follow you to the course and golf range, but what of the golf ball? Why not an appeal in favor of the practitioner’s understanding distance and spin in both arenas - the practice range and the golf course? How does weather affect a golf ball? At Transcendental Golf range we’ve used a three ball system for thirteen years, and golfers know that the cold weather choice is Srixon, not Titleist or Wilson because the softer feel is best in cold weather! We are not saying that Wilson or Titleist do not have a softer feeling ball like Srixon, nor are we saying the weather is to remain cold in Wisconsin perpetually We are saying that the 80 compression ball - Srixon, leaves the golf shop counter in April and March just as regularly and frequently as the hybrid golf club has replaced the # 2 iron and # 3 iron in your golf bag. “Why?” - because “ It works”! Why do golf ball manufacturer’s have so many “offerings” of golf balls? Does one company offer many because another company does? Should marketing be motivated by a quantitative dimension of inquiry only? What’s the quality of the “offerings” of golf balls that could fit the consumer besides the aspect of “spin” and “distance? Ever kick your car or truck tire in cold weather in Wisconsin? Try to do the same when it is 90 degrees - you’ll know compression variables! Why did we play the ladies ball at the Indio, California par three couse at night - at 40 degrees, and at 90 degrees during the day - the higher compression ball? “Why?” - because of temperature change. Could it be that the marketing scheme of choose one or the other: chose for “spin” or chose for “distance” will disappear, and self-regulate? The 1-2-3-iron did exactly that for the hybrid! After almost two hundred years we finally figured it out - irons, hybrids, and the “sweeping metal driver and fairway clubs organized the “steep”, the “steep and sweep” , and the “sweep ” .angle of golf club motion. An appeal to connect the everyday player to his/her ball, both in practice and play is through education! Don’t separate your play and practice shots! Connect them! You don’t use range clubs to practice with, and then use your own on the golf course, do you? Golf is “feel”! Don’t separate!” What golf ball company was it that had a ladies ball that was used by a PGA tour player? The word got out - other players tried and used it. successfully Then it became the Laddy ball - no longer the Lassie. Change the logo, but what of “feel”? What ball suits your “feel” in what weather? It’s not that the balls are not available. Rather we are told “spin” and “distance”. The USGA and the Royal and Ancient should watch the behavior of the uneducated “spin” and “distance” survey participants. “Winter Rules” will win out. Start the golf hole with distance ball then change to the “spin” ball, along the way, to the green . The point being - play by the rules. Play and practice by connecting your “feel” Know the ball for you by weather variables. Change your golf ball according to temperature change.. With so many “offerings” why not use them? Golf is diversified. Many golf clubs on variable lie angles make golf a challenge unlike any other sport. The golf ball should help us - not hinder us! Making the correct choice goes beyond “spin” and “distance” The ball returns “feel” from the “strike” of the club head’s contact with it, and weather determines your choice of ball for a quality shot.. Could it be that the golf ball manufacturer’s dualistic survey of - this or that, or “spin” or “distance” should be a personal mantra of “ Don’t separate - educate”? Jack Thomsen 4-14-2009

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