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HBO Real Sports: The Downturn in the Golf Industry - Page 2

post #19 of 45

Someone could probably write a disseration on the economic, socioeconomic, and demographic reasons the game is in decline but unfortunately I don't see any reversing of the trend nor do I think there are any silver bullets to stem the bleeding.

post #20 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by skydog View Post
 

Someone could probably write a disseration on the economic, socioeconomic, and demographic reasons the game is in decline but unfortunately I don't see any reversing of the trend nor do I think there are any silver bullets to stem the bleeding.

 

What would you consider a "Silver Bullet"?

post #21 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lihu View Post
 

 

What would you consider a "Silver Bullet"?

 

Like I said, I don't know what one would be (nor do I think there is one) but obviously the USGA and the like have thought abou the larger hole, tee it forward, etc. initiatives as means of increasing popularity. But to clarify, I guess I mean it as something that would reverse the decline in the game or maybe at least slow the rate of decline.

post #22 of 45

I will try and watch the show but there has been a lot of discussion on this topic already and many opinions given.  I believe that the cost of golf is the biggest factor in fewer people playing the game.  Economic strain also limits discretionary time which makes 4-5 hours for a round of golf difficult even if you are making ends meet.  The fact that golf is a difficult game is IMO the least factor since the advances in equipment have most of us hitting the ball better than ever.

 

I would not be overly alarmed at the situation since the banner years of Reagan and Clinton poured a lot of wealth into our pockets - and there was the Tiger factor.  The number of golfers and golf courses shot up and then the Great Recession - this is a normal correction.  Our game is still healthy with millions of avid golfers and there will be future peaks and valleys.  The entire issue can be over analyzed to death - just follow the money.

post #23 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by skydog View Post

Someone could probably write a disseration on the economic, socioeconomic, and demographic reasons the game is in decline but unfortunately I don't see any reversing of the trend nor do I think there are any silver bullets to stem the bleeding.

You don't see any reversing of the trend? Not even a strong economy?
post #24 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamo View Post


You don't see any reversing of the trend? Not even a strong economy?

 

I think all boats rise with the tide. A stronger economy - meaning more people at work with discretionary income- will raise all recreational activities including golf. Not that I buy any, but vintage sports car and ski boat prices are higher than they were a year ago. Without getting too political, I think middle and upper-middle class folks must have discretionary income, and upper middle class to moderately wealthy must have investable income, to sustain public non-subsidized golf facilities.  There will always be the Winged Foots and Augustas, and the Greenbriers and Palm Springs playgrounds for the wealthy, but for the $50-$100 per round courses to thrive, it has to be profitable for investors and affordable for a lot of golfers.

 

I also think that semi-private courses such as those associated with real estate developments, and mid-priced resorts are extremely dependent on an economy that benefits upper-middle class to moderately wealthy.

 

I am not personally interested in bigger holes, shorter courses, or modified formats. I do think 9 hole courses are a good idea, that actually was once quite common. I am lucky in that my usual 18 hole course has a 9 hole rate; more courses should do likewise. There is also a local 9 hole course inside and apartment complex that admits the general public. It is shortish tight, but more or less regulation-a good example of efficient use of land, I think. I like good tees, fairways, and greens, but I don't mind shaggy rough  and  unmaintained natrual areas. I suppose I could adapt to less maintenance on the fairways if it meant preservation of the game.

post #25 of 45

I agree with NJpatbee in that a decline was nearly certain after the spike we saw in the 80s and 90s. All I need to do is look at the number of courses built in my area during that time period and then the number of people that moved away since then.

 

As a golfer on a limited budget, I'd like to think that fees won't go up too much on the courses that I play. Things will eventually find equilibrium.

post #26 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbuck View Post
 

 

I think all boats rise with the tide. A stronger economy - meaning more people at work with discretionary income- will raise all recreational activities including golf. Not that I buy any, but vintage sports car and ski boat prices are higher than they were a year ago. Without getting too political, I think middle and upper-middle class folks must have discretionary income, and upper middle class to moderately wealthy must have investable income, to sustain public non-subsidized golf facilities.  There will always be the Winged Foots and Augustas, and the Greenbriers and Palm Springs playgrounds for the wealthy, but for the $50-$100 per round courses to thrive, it has to be profitable for investors and affordable for a lot of golfers.

 

I also think that semi-private courses such as those associated with real estate developments, and mid-priced resorts are extremely dependent on an economy that benefits upper-middle class to moderately wealthy.

 

I am not personally interested in bigger holes, shorter courses, or modified formats. I do think 9 hole courses are a good idea, that actually was once quite common. I am lucky in that my usual 18 hole course has a 9 hole rate; more courses should do likewise. There is also a local 9 hole course inside and apartment complex that admits the general public. It is shortish tight, but more or less regulation-a good example of efficient use of land, I think. I like good tees, fairways, and greens, but I don't mind shaggy rough  and  unmaintained natrual areas. I suppose I could adapt to less maintenance on the fairways if it meant preservation of the game.

 

This, and quite a few people also mentioned that they over built golfing facilities in the past couple decades.

 

 

 

Here is my suggestion for getting more families out on the course:

 

I think they could make a lot more municipal courses that charge $28 per round (walking) on the weekends and have a $200 monthly pass for weekdays. This would be more affordable and entice more people to go just for the exercise.

 

I see a lot of people walking through my neighborhood, they could just as easily walk through a park like setting of a golf course.

 

They could make it friendly for families, so the parents and/or kids can play. It's a great way for families to take a long walk together, and optionally play a round. They just need to follow proper etiquette when they are just walking.

 

Pace of play would be casual on the weekends at these courses.

post #27 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamo View Post


You don't see any reversing of the trend? Not even a strong economy?

 

Even if the economy keeps improving modestly (which is far from a guarantee) it's a zero sum game for the golf industry, IMO, because of the demographics of the country. The golf industry is being supported by baby boomers and as more and more of them start saving more and spending less as they approach retirment, there are far fewer 25-40 year olds with the disposable income, time, or inclination to play in the #s needed. I don't think that will change, even if the economy improves. It's just such a different world than it was from the mid 80s through 2007 when the golf world exploded. The effects will vary widely from locale to locale, but by and large I think golf will revert back to being more of a rich man's game as the wealthy keep getting wealthier and the middle class keeps getting squeezed for all they've got.

post #28 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by skydog View Post

Even if the economy keeps improving modestly (which is far from a guarantee) it's a zero sum game for the golf industry, IMO, because of the demographics of the country. The golf industry is being supported by baby boomers and as more and more of them start saving more and spending less as they approach retirment, there are far fewer 25-40 year olds with the disposable income, time, or inclination to play in the #s needed. I don't think that will change, even if the economy improves. It's just such a different world than it was from the mid 80s through 2007 when the golf world exploded. The effects will vary widely from locale to locale, but by and large I think golf will revert back to being more of a rich man's game as the wealthy keep getting wealthier and the middle class keeps getting squeezed for all they've got.

What's funny is in the UK, golf is not just a rich man's game.
http://www.golfbusinessnews.com/news/management-topics/golf-participation-in-the-uk-holding-strong/


Here are the results for England by itself: http://www.bgia.org.uk/upload/public/Golf%20APS6Q2%20results.pdf

One big thing is that more women are participating. This could be the big one in the Americas and Europe.


An aside is that golf is picking up in Asia, and it spills out to people wanting to visit many courses all over the world.
http://thefuturescompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/The_Future_of_Golf.pdf
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lihu View Post
 

 

This, and quite a few people also mentioned that they over built golfing facilities in the past couple decades.

 

 

 

Here is my suggestion for getting more families out on the course:

 

I think they could make a lot more municipal courses that charge $28 per round (walking) on the weekends and have a $200 monthly pass for weekdays. This would be more affordable and entice more people to go just for the exercise.

 

I see a lot of people walking through my neighborhood, they could just as easily walk through a park like setting of a golf course.

 

They could make it friendly for families, so the parents and/or kids can play. It's a great way for families to take a long walk together, and optionally play a round. They just need to follow proper etiquette when they are just walking.

 

Pace of play would be casual on the weekends at these courses.

 

Considering my local muni costs residents $20 a round to walk, I'm not sure I'd pay $200 for a monthly pass, but I would totally do a monthly pass around $100.

 

In that scenario, I'd probably do 90% of my Albany golfing at the course, as opposed to the 50% I do now.  Not sure that the course would win out in this scenario as I'm mostly a weekend warrior and, tbh, it probably would inspire me to play 9 after work more often.

post #30 of 45
The pricing for monthly is $25 higher than I would pay, anyway.

L.A. county charges $27 on weekdays. It's a fixed fee. They should do weekday monthly rates.
post #31 of 45

I don't think cost is such a big issue, a person can buy great used gear for little money and there are plenty of affordable courses.

I also don't think time is an issue, 9 holes only takes a little while, 3 par courses can be done in a flash, people have the time if they want it.

The game itself is the biggest problem, it bores most people, it's a slow game no matter how fast people try to make it, it's not about action, it's not about machismo, it's not about looking cool, there is nothing about the game that interests most people IMO, it's what old people do.

The other issue is how hard it is, golf is very unique in that a person cannot play and have fun without a lot of learning, you cannot simply go play and stink, yet have a good time like every other game/sport, you must learn and that takes a lot of time and energy, few people have the interest to do that.

 

post #32 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDC View Post

I don't think cost is such a big issue, a person can buy great used gear for little money and there are plenty of affordable courses.

I disagree. You can buy solid used gear pretty cheaply, but people don't like to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDC View Post

I also don't think time is an issue, 9 holes only takes a little while, 3 par courses can be done in a flash, people have the time if they want it.

I'd say that the perceived or expected cost matters as much as the actual cost.

Again, you can find decently cheap golf courses, but they're usually bland, and in bad shape, and a lot of people will want to add a cart.

Those are all their self-imposed hangups, but they're still real hangups.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDC View Post

The game itself is the biggest problem, it bores most people, it's a slow game no matter how fast people try to make it, it's not about action, it's not about machismo, it's not about looking cool, there is nothing about the game that interests most people IMO, it's what old people do.


The other issue is how hard it is, golf is very unique in that a person cannot not play and have fun without a lot of learning, you cannot simply go play and stink, yet have a good time like every other game/sport, you must learn and that takes a lot of time and energy, few people have the interest to do that.

I agree with all that.
post #33 of 45

I didn't read every comment..but I think suspect a large portion of the lack of revenue into the golf business is directly related to corporations big and small having to answer to how they spend their dollars.

 

I would be willing to bet tournament revenues from corporate outings are way down at most golf courses, also there has always been a lot of business done on the golf course with salesman or company representatives treating clients and potential clients to golf rounds and outings. Just like so many of the major sports season ticket holders are corporations I suspect a tremendous amount of dollars and scrutiny over expense budgets have scaled back some of the dollars used to play the game.

post #34 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cfritchie View Post

I didn't read every comment..but I think suspect a large portion of the lack of revenue into the golf business is directly related to corporations big and small having to answer to how they spend their dollars.

I would be willing to bet tournament revenues from corporate outings are way down at most golf courses, also there has always been a lot of business done on the golf course with salesman or company representatives treating clients and potential clients to golf rounds and outings. Just like so many of the major sports season ticket holders are corporations I suspect a tremendous amount of dollars and scrutiny over expense budgets have scaled back some of the dollars used to play the game.
I agree with a lot of this. In my last job, so much of the business was done on the golf course, hell that's one of the reasons I started playing. We also held/participated in about 6 gold outings a year, all designed to spend time with customers, I'm not sure if it's like that anymore.



**side note** I had never seen Top Golf before. That looks like fun.
post #35 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cfritchie View Post
 

I didn't read every comment..but I think suspect a large portion of the lack of revenue into the golf business is directly related to corporations big and small having to answer to how they spend their dollars.

 

I would be willing to bet tournament revenues from corporate outings are way down at most golf courses, also there has always been a lot of business done on the golf course with salesman or company representatives treating clients and potential clients to golf rounds and outings. Just like so many of the major sports season ticket holders are corporations I suspect a tremendous amount of dollars and scrutiny over expense budgets have scaled back some of the dollars used to play the game.

I'm not so sure your ideas are relative to the true subject of the decline of golf. All of my contacts within the PGA, PGAtour indicate that they are extremely healthy in sponsorships and revenue gain year after year. These corporate sponsorships are fueling fundraising and their own product, service and consulting services on tv and publications. Basically marketing dollars. There has not been so much as any downturn at all including when tiger was not playing. Almost all these companies that advertise and by tents etc are going after People with money and unfortunately your 20,and 30 something do not have money. Ever see a 25 year drooling over a Cadillac, or shop for insurance and investment brokers for example?

 

Now to your point smaller businesses can no longer write off golf as an entertaining expense,so that scramble tournament in any town USA will have trouble getting the local restaurant, construction company, local insurance, doctors offices will likely no longer be contributing and playing in that $400-$600 foursome. Thus tournaments including member/ guests may not be a full field.

post #36 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spitfisher View Post
 

I'm not so sure your ideas are relative to the true subject of the decline of golf. All of my contacts within the PGA, PGAtour indicate that they are extremely healthy in sponsorships and revenue gain year after year. These corporate sponsorships are fueling fundraising and their own product, service and consulting services on tv and publications. Basically marketing dollars. There has not been so much as any downturn at all including when tiger was not playing. Almost all these companies that advertise and by tents etc are going after People with money and unfortunately your 20,and 30 something do not have money. Ever see a 25 year drooling over a Cadillac, or shop for insurance and investment brokers for example?

 

Now to your point smaller businesses can no longer write off golf as an entertaining expense,so that scramble tournament in any town USA will have trouble getting the local restaurant, construction company, local insurance, doctors offices will likely no longer be contributing and playing in that $400-$600 foursome. Thus tournaments including member/ guests may not be a full field.

 

In this area many mills bought multiple memberships at the country club for their employees. Most of the mills are gone and so are those memberships. Other local businesses had company golf outings at various courses much more often than they do now.

 

Probably for the first time ever even the country club is having financial troubles.

 

There are other factors in play but the loss of those company memberships didn't help the situation.

 

Off topic.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

On the bright side the little course where I work had more golfers today than any weekday I can remember for a long, long time.

At least a glimmer of hope.

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