Fearless predictions for 2011

Average: 3.3 (316 votes)

We at Golf Inc. have a history of making predictions. It started with our very first issue in 1991 when founder Alan Crittenden warned that NGF’s bold call “to build a course a day” could lead to blood in the streets.

We don’t always get them right. But then, they would not be “fearless” if we did not go out on a limb every now and then.

We are currently putting together our predictions for 2011 — foreclosures will double in 2011. Greens fees will increase. The sizzle in golf development will leave China and move to India.

But before we finalize, we want to hear your thoughts. What are your predictions for this next year?


I agree with closures and china but,increase in green fees I disagree; maybe at your local muni, since they had a higher number of players come out because of the economy. I will predict they you will see lower green fees in general. I think all of the golf course owners should stop taking paid advise from these so called golf experts and just listen to the customer. So here some free advise: Stop with all these's so called services and enhanced experience. I don't need to pay for somthing extra. No drop off person, I can carry my own bag and clean my own clubs at the end of the round. No cart girl. I bring or buy my water at your shop.(your just slowing us up). Drop your rate if it rains (no lighting), drizzles or high winds. golfers need to know how to play in these conditions but they are not going to pay top price for it. Lastly, remember owners there are enough private country clubs, your dealing with average people who are trying to have a good time at a good price. Thanks A golfer, not a owner

Excell in customer service and know your customer base and what they can afford. Do not raise prices like government raises taxes, but go over line by line expenses to see where you can lower cost and still give quality.

I am tired of being inundated by all of the suggestions for increased customer service. Customer service is a function of money. It requires payroll dollars. The question is “Can I afford the customer service level I now have?”. You might be surprised how many of your customers would rather have less customer service and lower prices. Who has more customers – Wal-Mart or Neiman Markus? Wal-Mart does it on price and Neiman does it on customer service.

The Golf Management industry will double and we will consolidate all vendor services to the best in the market place. All vendors will have to know the Golf industry better than ever before.

Yes there will be more courses closing, but that is healthy. In the retail business the Starbucks brand was once thought to be the strongest in the industry. They closed hundreds of stores, if Macy’s can, if Sears can, if Circuit City can close hundreds of stores, why should golf courses that are functionally obsolete, poorly run, poorly managed not succumb to the same business principles that all business must operate on. It is good and healthy to weed out the weak. As far as an increase in green fees, as an industry, we have to make choices. If we want to have beautiful courses that require a lot of man hours of labor, and five star services, you have to charge more, if you want little service and cheap prices, you can play in that airspace also. The problem is that in the last few years instead of offering better value, most owners just slashed prices to obtain more play, and the guy next store did the same and so on, so the whole economics of golf was lowered by discounting. We have to stop cannibalizing our revenue and stop lowing green fees and start offering a better product, better service and better value. It is not always about the fee, it is about what the perceived value is for the fee. To predict green fees will go up is a stretch. They need to stop going down first. We predict next year will be a much better year for all in the golf industry and those who have core competencies in their respective golf niches will do well, those that don’t, will pay the piper. My wish is that Santa brings us all good tidings, lots of golfers and that the courses will turn green with a good revenue stream for all!

Interesting comments so far. We are in a cyclical industry. Similar to the hotel/resort industry, we rely mainly on ancillary income and recreational dollars that less households have at this period in time. As an industry, we need to do what it takes to survive and prosper, not just now, but forever. That may mean cutting a service, that may mean staffing certain areas less, and that may mean we don't edge bunkers or fertilize the golf course or spray weeds as much. Water, fertilizers, chemicals, seed, labor, supplies, food costs, delivery fees, petroleum products, everything has been on the rise....while we continue to slash prices. It just doesn't add up unfortunately and we need to make adjustments however and whenever possible to maintain a quality product and grow our business incrementally each year. There's just no magic pill. What it really means to me (I oversee two busy public golf courses in Arizona) is that we must train our staff better than we ever have, focus heavily on friendliness and being extremely welcoming to all golfers, charge fair rates but also capitalizing during prime times and discounting during off-peak times when necessary, and yes, sacrificing certain things for the greater good of our financial statements. Oh yeah...I didn't forget; and we need to constantly hire and train the right people to politely but aggressively promote pace of play. We need to continue to grow the game and remove all intimidating & pretentious concepts from golf facilities, and start acting like we are in the Customer Service (Hospitality) business, and not the snotty rich man's golf business. Junior and Beginner clinics must be fun and inviting (and yes, affordable). We need to create more synergy among local merchants, restaurateurs, and businesses to promote each other and help each other grow within our communities. This leads to league play, tournaments, and that 4-some of good guys just looking to come out and knock it around and have a couple beers. Creativity and enthusiasm are always essential. On the contrary to the gentleman who stated he didn't need a beverage cart girl out there, I feel the opposite. We need the right (friendly and trained) people out there selling and smiling. That ideal of not wanting a cart girl represents a small minority. We need more service in our industry! Plus, for many golfers, golf and cold beer go hand-in-hand! Not much of a prediction for you - the industry will remain flat in 2011 however. Some courses will close, a few will open. It will be more of keeping heads above water until things improve in the housing markets nationwide, employment rates drop a bit more, and we see a larger-scale turnaround.

Jason, I agree with most of your statements and I can tell you have passion for your work and the golf industry. What works in some areas might not work in others (cart girl). Here in the mid-west(chicagoland area)I haven't seen that "do what it takes" art form. What I really would like to know Jason is what type of services specifically would you do more of? I believe its time to hit the reset button and just start from the begining with a small club/starter house and a course and tell the golfers it's just you and the game, go have at it! No frills. If I can tell you one thing; get that Housing market out of your head "it's done!" it's not going to improve for years. It's funny that the golf industry(manufactures) does not take more of a stand on the issues with golf in the U.S.( Oh that right, their to busy over seas)they don't want to cut their price. you are right thou, that this industy goes in a circle and right now and for years to come you guys better get in a different mind set, the big profits are not there and consumers are getting smarter.

We are rolling out a new product for golf courses this year -- a wireless point of sale integration for golf course beverage carts. The components include a touch screen netbook and swiper/printer mounted on an articulated arm on the cart with a powerful 802.11 repeater connecting to the clubhouse. The solution currently works with the Jonas Club system but can be integrated with other club management/POS software. The solution allows the cart girl to take credit, debit or smart player cards on the course, enabling increased sales, integration to the club inventory system, trend tracking and more. Players get a receipt right there at the point of purchase. During site surveys I have shadowed the cart gals around for nine holes and talked with them about the process. All have explained how such as system would easily double their sales and make close out and restocking much easier. For more information, take a look at our website. We plan to be at the NGCOA show in Orlando this year and I can be reached at 386 690 3173. Very best regards and happy new year to all, Rick McKeen President RAM Wireless LLC

There are so many challenges in the golf industry these days it’s hard to know where to begin. Many interesting comments here. One thing that’s absolutely clear however is that the difficulties will be overcome, over time, with operational improvements, not marketing smoke and inflated promises about “the experience”. Private golf is shrinking faster than a helium balloon on New Year’s morning. Everyone in the industry should already understand that. Gen X and Gen Y simply see the world differently and have a very different view of the private club lifestyle, no matter what industry marketing guru’s would have you believe. And comments about waiting out the economy are truly laughable. Since when is hope a business strategy? Public golf, as stated in other comments, will still attract it’s core fans and could grow and attract new players, but not until operators focus on the steak and forget the irrelevant sizzle, the elements that add more cost than value. Focus on what matters and spend money where the member and customer generally want it...on the game.

No drop off person, I can carry my own bag and clean my own clubs at the end of the round. <a href="http://www.google.com/">Google</a>

Jack Crittenden, interested to know your observations on this discussion thread now that we are almost at half the year mark. There is no doubt that golf is growing very rapidly in India, some say 30% pa, which is what I see each time I go back home. A lot of it is built on the real estate boom that is taking place. A lot of junior golf organisations are coming up in India and these have large enrollments. And junior golf gets a lot of support from the significant golf clubs. That helps growth. What is perhaps not quite happening is the creation open public practice facilities. We have a few but that is it. Bye for now Puneet Sachdev The Indian Golf Company

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