Some very bright minds have devised strategies and tactics to stem the tide of eroding golf rounds and related revenues at clubs and resorts throughout the country.
Check out the dynamics of almost any industry you choose, and odds are pretty good that the owners, operators, suppliers and association(s) serving it are flummoxed by the challenges of overcapacity, changing customer demographics, flat or declining revenues in the face of increasing commodity costs, customer retention, and fierce battles for market share.
Certainly, we here at Club & Resort Business have used a lot of ink and paper (and megabytes) in the past few years analyzing what is right and wrong with the golf and club market. Some very bright minds have devised strategies and tactics to stem the tide of eroding golf rounds and related revenues at clubs and resorts throughout the country. A lot of this new thinking is showing signs of promise; however, it’s worthwhile to recall some fundamental truths that have, and will continue to, affect our industry. Take advantage of them to your benefit.
Weather. The outfit de jour on many golf courses last spring was a pair of waders and a set of goggles (logos not included). Not very conducive to growing the game. What a difference a year makes. February 2012 rounds were up 14.5%, according to PGA Performance Trak data. Year to date, 2012 rounds are up 20.6%, and my guess is that March will be even better when the numbers come in. Courses throughout the country are benefiting already this year from above-average temperatures and comparatively dry weather.
No rocket science here: When it comes to the weather for golf course owners, being lucky is really good.
Economics. My professional career has spanned five economic downturns—and five recoveries. Some of the recessions were worse than others. Some companies didn’t make it, but most did. The scale and duration of the “bounce” during the recovery was different each time; however, the businesses that learned and adapted while times were tough came out ahead in the long run.
There is no doubt that the golf and club market learned some very valuable management lessons in this most recent downturn. For example, the industry was pretty technology-adverse for too long. Now golf and country clubs, like so many other industries before them, have learned to embrace and apply technology throughout their operations, and are reaping the benefits in productivity and cost control.
The rising tide in any economic recovery will lift your boat, provided you have fixed all the holes.
Fellowship. Look it up in Webster’s and you’ll see why they should have a picture of a club next to the definition: Companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms. (So that’s where the handicap system comes from!)
Fellowship is age- and gender-neutral, and it’s the fundamental reason why the golf and club market will endure both good times and bad.
You really can’t do anything about the weather or the economy, but if your club gets this Fellowship thing right, you will do just fine. Always.feedback api