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Has golf's demise been greatly exaggerated?

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

http://www.golfdigest.com/blogs/the-loop/2014/07/has-golfs-demise-been-greatly.html

 

Golf Digest's Mike Stachura says, "Not so fast!"

 

Have you heard the rumor about the golf industry dying? The one that’s been all over the news, on social media and, yes, even on your premium cable channels? 
 
Yes, it’s been a rough week for the golf business. But do the headlines tell the whole story? 
post #2 of 46

Interesting article.  It mentions the PGA Junior League.  My kids played in the league in the spring.  It was very popular.  It went so well that they're doing it again in the fall, even though they hadn't planned on it.

post #3 of 46

Greatly exaggerated? Yes. Absolutely.

post #4 of 46
Yes, agree. In Dallas, it's thriving.
post #5 of 46

Probably yeah, the deluge of slow play complaints seem to say otherwise.

post #6 of 46

The game's in great shape, the business, not so much.  But keep in mind that some of the business issues have silver linings that actually benefit the game.  For instance, the exuberance of the recent course building boom has improved access and affordability in much, if not most, of the country.  It may be a little hard on the owners/investors who built the courses, but that's the free market for you.  As a golfer, what's not to like about more choice, lower cost and less congestion?

post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by DwightC View Post

The game's in great shape, the business, not so much.  

I think that sums it up about as well as I've seen it summed up.
post #8 of 46

The golf business isn't really much different that a lot of other businesses. Trends rise and fall. Sometimes supply gets too far ahead of demand and you have a correction. Corrections are often unpleasant for a lot of people, but they are short-term.

post #9 of 46
Quote:
Recent data from golf-retail research firm Golf Datatech show that the sale of hard goods (clubs, balls, bags, shoes and gloves) through the first six months of the year are higher than or equal to 12 of the previous 17 years. Is the trend line down from the somewhat freakish highs of 2006-'08? Yes. But there are unquestionable categories of enthusiasm this year. Iron sales, the largest purchase a golfer makes, have been up this year. The wedge market, thought to be dead after the USGA rolled back groove performance, has been consistently up this year. Even the footwear market has been an important, steady source of revenue. Callaway Golf just announced its second-quarter earnings and noted its sales for the first half of 2014 were up 9 percent, with growth in all categories, including woods (up 8 percent), irons (up 14 percent), putters (up 9 percent) and golf balls (up 7 percent).

 

A good part from the article.

post #10 of 46

Yes. Perhaps we can run a quick poll on how many TST'ers know a golfer (1st or 2nd degree connection) who has quit the game in the past 3-4 years. They may know someone who plays less now due to family obligations, but I'll be interested to see how the results comes out.

post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3putter View Post
 

Yes. Perhaps we can run a quick poll on how many TST'ers know a golfer (1st or 2nd degree connection) who has quit the game in the past 3-4 years. They may know someone who plays less now due to family obligations, but I'll be interested to see how the results comes out.


I can't think of any. I started again in 2012 and the same regulars are there every time I go, it's like walking into Cheers. I've even started to recognize the sneaky, hermit types that come out late in the afternoon and play alone. A couple of months ago it got so bad on weekends I don't even go out unless I see blocks of open times or get an invite to a private course. A typical Sat-Sun will have 250 golfers out there during peak hours. And that's on out of the way rural courses. I don't even bother with metro area courses, like going to a theme park on kids free day.

post #12 of 46
Perhaps the golf business is hurting because the market is oversaturated? I mean really, how many new clubs does TM need to release each year?
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave2512 View Post
 


I can't think of any. I started again in 2012 and the same regulars are there every time I go, it's like walking into Cheers. I've even started to recognize the sneaky, hermit types that come out late in the afternoon and play alone. A couple of months ago it got so bad on weekends I don't even go out unless I see blocks of open times or get an invite to a private course. A typical Sat-Sun will have 250 golfers out there during peak hours. And that's on out of the way rural courses. I don't even bother with metro area courses, like going to a theme park on kids free day.

Same here in NJ and CT. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by billchao View Post

Perhaps the golf business is hurting because the market is oversaturated? I mean really, how many new clubs does TM need to release each year?

Amen. And how many new clubs does the average player buy yearly, most of my buddies buy clubs maybe once every 3 years unless they get an eye-popping deal (which tends to be online).  I haven't bought new balls this year at all, mostly because I find enough ProVs and NXT tour to keep me smiling for a while. I 

post #14 of 46

How about this scenario. What about a golf course that was charging several hundreds of dollars, a few years ago to golf there, that is now charging less than $100 to golf?  Would that not be considered a down turn? What about "private courses" that are now open to the public? In both instances, those changes were made to keep more golfers on those types of courses. 

 

Do I know any one who does not golf anymore, or a lot less due to economics? I could name 4 or 5, but they are retirees who are on fixed incomes. Their new incomes are much lower than what they made when working. Every year a sizeable group of golfers enter into a lower income bracket because of retirement. Are they being replaced with younger, higher income folks? 

post #15 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patch View Post
 

How about this scenario. What about a golf course that was charging several hundreds of dollars, a few years ago to golf there, that is now charging less than $100 to golf?  Would that not be considered a down turn? What about "private courses" that are now open to the public? In both instances, those changes were made to keep more golfers on those types of courses. 

 

I think in those instances it's just market correction, they were overcharging before because they could. No doubt less profitable now but the courses like that I frequent also don't offer what they once did, specifically exclusivity. I am certain their green fee structure is designed to keep them above water. What they can't predict is slow times due to whatever. But none ever seem to struggle because the private part was based in being built amongst a golf community and those homes are still there. One didn't open to the public because membership was down but because they are in a special district where taxes and water are a problem.

post #16 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patch View Post
 

How about this scenario. What about a golf course that was charging several hundreds of dollars, a few years ago to golf there, that is now charging less than $100 to golf?  Would that not be considered a down turn? What about "private courses" that are now open to the public? In both instances, those changes were made to keep more golfers on those types of courses. 

 

Do I know any one who does not golf anymore, or a lot less due to economics? I could name 4 or 5, but they are retirees who are on fixed incomes. Their new incomes are much lower than what they made when working. Every year a sizeable group of golfers enter into a lower income bracket because of retirement. Are they being replaced with younger, higher income folks? 

Is it possible that those courses were overcharging in the first place? Is it possible that their patrons have started frequenting other courses where they may get a better value for their buck. I definitely wouldn't argue that the business is booming, but to paraphrase Mark Twain, I'd say the reports of golf's death have been greatly exaggerated.

 

I don't know much about the retirement (or much of anything at all), but it seems like a solid point 

post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patch View Post

How about this scenario. What about a golf course that was charging several hundreds of dollars, a few years ago to golf there, that is now charging less than $100 to golf?  Would that not be considered a down turn? What about "private courses" that are now open to the public? In both instances, those changes were made to keep more golfers on those types of courses. 

Do I know any one who does not golf anymore, or a lot less due to economics? I could name 4 or 5, but they are retirees who are on fixed incomes. Their new incomes are much lower than what they made when working. Every year a sizeable group of golfers enter into a lower income bracket because of retirement. Are they being replaced with younger, higher income folks? 

I doubt it.
post #18 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3putter View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patch View Post
 

How about this scenario. What about a golf course that was charging several hundreds of dollars, a few years ago to golf there, that is now charging less than $100 to golf?  Would that not be considered a down turn? What about "private courses" that are now open to the public? In both instances, those changes were made to keep more golfers on those types of courses. 

 

Do I know any one who does not golf anymore, or a lot less due to economics? I could name 4 or 5, but they are retirees who are on fixed incomes. Their new incomes are much lower than what they made when working. Every year a sizeable group of golfers enter into a lower income bracket because of retirement. Are they being replaced with younger, higher income folks? 

Is it possible that those courses were overcharging in the first place? Is it possible that their patrons have started frequenting other courses where they may get a better value for their buck. I definitely wouldn't argue that the business is booming, but to paraphrase Mark Twain, I'd say the reports of golf's death have been greatly exaggerated.

 

I don't know much about the retirement (or much of anything at all), but it seems like a solid point 

Rio Secco GC in Las Vegas is the only one I have first hand knowledge of . When it first opened they charged $600-$800 for a round of golf. It was in an up scaled neighborhood, and Harmon's School of Golf was there. Sometimes Tiger Woods could be seen playing there as he was under the tutelage of Butch at that time. They stayed open at that price for quite a long time. Another plus was that they were in some sort of partnership with one of the larger, local, hotel casinos. Due to the way the property was purchased (for a public golf course) a class action suit was brought about . A judge went and played the course to see what it was worth to public. He decided that $400 a round was a decent price. The course continued to prosper. Long story short after the economy went bad, I could golf there for $55. As I understand it, right  now during off hours it's even cheaper .

 

I recently heard (what might be a rumor) that Cascata GC is now open to the public. It was at one time a very private course.  http://www2.cybergolf.com/sites/courses/layout9.asp?id=1050&page=61753 If indeed it is open to the public, I will give it a go in a few months as it is/was one of the very best courses Southern Nevada.  I golfed there several years ago when it was private as a guest. It was a very high dollar place, but course and the services were nothing short of amazing. 

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