US National Golf Foundation sees only gloom

19 January 2009 Respond to this article

US National Golf Foundation sees only  gloom

19th January 2009

US National Golf Foundation finds course supply shrinking and analyses recession’s impact.

In 2008, course closures outpaced openings for the third consecutive year, according to year-end results from the National Golf Foundation.

The “negative net growth” occurred as a result of 72 openings offset by the closing of 106 facilities. Among the course openings, there were 47 daily-fees (including new courses and expansion of existing facilities); 4 municipal layouts and 21 private courses.

The number of closings have declined steadily during the past few years, from 146 in 2006 to 121.5 in 2007 to 106 in 2008. Meanwhile, the nation reported course openings of 119.5 in 2006 and 113 in 2007.

According to the NGF, closures continue to be disproportionately public, stand-alone 9-hole facilities or short courses that offer value-priced green fees.

In other related news, rounds played volume in the U.S. declined 6.7 percent in November 2008 compared with the same month a year earlier. According to a report compiled jointly by the NGF, Golf Datatech, PGA of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association, year-to-date rounds played dropped 1.6 percent.

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A National Golf Foundation survey finds nearly 50 percent of core golfers have cut back spending because of the recession – but rounds played have fallen only marginally.

Excerpts of the survey reveal such seemingly contradictory results, but there may be simple explanations for them. According to the NGF, it’s possible survey participants are tightening their budgets but not reducing spending sharply enough to affect course operators. A general decline in consumer confidence also may be affecting perception more than actual behavior.

The NGF reports rounds played declined 1.3 percent through October 2008 compared with the same period in 2007. An indication that business is flat is supported by operators: 38 percent expect revenues to be up in 2008; 35 percent expect revenues to be down; and 27 percent expect revenue levels to remain the same.

The following is a part of the survey of adult core golfers:

Golf related spending/activity: March '08 Aug. '08
Playing fewer rounds 19% 23%
Delaying equipment purchases 25% 24%
Going on fewer golf trips 18% 17%



General finances:

Have cut back on spending 51% 48%
Inflation has put strain on budget 49% 49%
Soft housing market causing problems 16% 13%
My job is very/somewhat secure 90% 92%

From: Golfweek