Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Below Par... an industry in decline...

Unfortunately it appears the economy is going to play catch up to what is a very expensive sport and I would suggest that our local courses are going to feel some of this pressure. The ability of the Province to raise any interest for the sale of our Provincial Courses is now probably up in the air and it will be a tough decision whether to sell or continue to lose millions of dollars operating the courses through Golf Links. An option may be leasing them out and getting a percentage of the income but at least this may stop the bleeding...
Golf industry in trouble as economy worsens
Housing market’s collapse hampers development of new courses
By David Sweet contributor
Wed., Dec. 3, 2008
Behold the golf course. Graced with rolling fairways, pristine greens, ancient oaks and other natural fanfare, it presents a striking picture.
But as beautiful as a golf course may be, its looks belie the trouble besetting the industry that created it. Golf is in decline by many measures. Rounds are down, as is the sale of equipment. TV ratings are also suffering.
According to the National Golf Foundation, the number of new courses expected to open in the United States in 2008 is the smallest in 20 years. More courses are scheduled to close this year (nearly 100) than the 80 expected to open, though the closures have fallen since almost 150 were shut down two years ago. The golf construction boom of the 1990s – when about 2,500 new courses (mostly daily fee ones) were added to the 13,000 or so already extant in the U.S. – is not only over; it’s stuck in reverse.
The problems of the broad economy are bedeviling golf course construction. The housing market’s collapse has hampered development, since a number of golf projects these days are tied into on-site housing. Getting financing to build a new course is tougher than it has been in decades. Projects that were started this year have seen the bulldozers turned off until better times appear.
Though municipal courses are taking the brunt of the downturn (except perhaps Torrey Pines, which enjoyed $8 million in renovations before the Open), private courses are not immune to the pain. Take the case of Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood, Ill. After 107 years as a well-respected course, the 6,300-yard Donald Ross original was reported to have been put up for sale this fall with a price tag of $4.95 million. It is said only a few dozen members are left.
All in all, the golf course business was once as breathtaking as the ocean holes at Pebble Beach. These days, unfortunately, it’s looking more like Rodney Dangerfield’s wardrobe in “Caddyshack.”

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