Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Supply, Demand, and the Real Future of Golf

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Supply, Demand, and the Real Future of Golf

Article excerpt

FOR SOME TIME WE'VE BEEN HEARING that the sport that could do no wrong in the 1980s and '90s was in the rough in the '00s. Like all things anecdotal, the reality is mostly true but with much gray thrown in. As our cover story explains, golf has fallen victim to that economic malady known as supply and demand imbalance.

The National Golf Foundation conducts extensive surveys each year and it believes the last several years reflect a pattern that is at once worrisome and promising.

The good news, NGF reports in its fall 2009 newsletter, is that the number of golfers entering the game increased by 16 percent since 1990, with little drop off of existing golfers. The number of new golf courses to come online, however, jumped 24 percent. As we all know from freshman economics, when supply outpaces demand, demand falls--in the case of golf, demand fell 20 percent since 1990, or 8,000 rounds per 18-hole course. Whether municipally owned or privately owned for public use matters less--since nature abhors vacuums and supply imbalances, making it likely that pain (and opportunities) will be felt by all. Poorly run courses run the risk of downward spirals of diminished maintenance and deferred capital expenditures, assuring that dissatisfied customers will defect to better run courses. NGA estimates some 10 to 15 percent (upwards of 1,500) courses are "at risk." Between 5 and 10 percent of those will close each year until supply and demand are back in balance.

Author Pat Jones points out that municipally owned courses are far from immune to supply imbalance. …

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