Reflections on the Golf Industry in Ohio
The state of the industry for golf courses in Ohio was illustrated last month at the 2011 Ohio Turfgrass Foundation trade show. Fascinating listening to the stories, joys, and concerns talked about on the show floor and at meetings.
Golf courses suffered severely during the ’08 recession. For some, life now is fairly decent. For others it’s a struggle, but not as gloomy. Unfortunately, for others getting by day to day is the order of business.
There are signs of slow progress. A golf course like any other business benefits from strategic planning. Those who have made the gut wrenching analysis and implemented plans seem to be reaping the best rewards.
A survey of manufactures suggests the industry has bottomed out and for courses proactively improving their product and sales/marketing, better revenues are happening.
Golf courses have been adapting to the economic and social conditions, which are very different than a few years ago. Golf will continue as a desired game. What is different is how people want to play it.
Country clubs are learning to live in a world where the “country club” lifestyle has altered drastically. Clubs have made many innovative efforts to attract members.
Courses in areas with a high density of competitors have been working hard to attract and keep golfers playing their facility.
Weather played a big role in reducing play time, thus revenues, especially in the northern part of the State. It’s hard to make up for lost play in a seasonal marketplace. The excessively wet season caused many maintenance problems as well. Northern Superintendents were just happy to be done with the year.
It appears there are an increasing number of course closings. Rumors fly in every region about who will be next. Sad, especially for old historic courses, but a fact of business life. Creative destruction always happens once the allure for the buying public fades. It’s a sign the market is correcting itself to match consumer demand.
Additionally we see an increased number of ownership changes. And drawn to the low purchase price, people new to operating a golf course are buying in. This too will change the environment.
The golf course world is in the middle of an important adaptive change. Indications are finally pointing to a more conducive environment. The smart operators have been looking to future and building their product to match our new world.
Given the fragile stability of our economy continues (and we get less rain!) 2012 should offer the potential for a profitable season.