Richard Oliver looks at the economic crisis impact on golf and shares several interesting anecdotes.
The spiraling economy, in addition to ripping chunks out of 401k balances, has delivered hits to discretionary spending. It has forced courses from South Florida to South Texas to alter price structures for green fees, offer aggressive specials and watch several country-club customers take aim at municipal-course flags.
“The best quote I heard recently was from one of the Titleist reps,” Jeff Hunter, director of golf at Sonterra, said Tuesday. “He told me he's never sold so many hats. People still want to buy something, but they're buying hats or shirts instead of that new driver.”
Now Wally, resist the temptation to, oh I don't know, reprimand this fellow. After all, the guy interviewed might have meant the Taylor Made reps! The T manufacturers are very easily confused.
Sonterra, like La Cantera and other country-club and resort tracts in the San Antonio area, is fighting to keep its golf landscape alluring, even in the face of droughts both atmospheric and economic.
If players are deciding against that 2009 Titleist 909D2 driver, the task remains to get them to pull out an outdated model and fire away as in the past.
“We were discussing it internally the other day,” said Steve Shields, director of golf at La Cantera. “You're going to see players forego the latest equipment, but hitting the course.”
You do need the golf course to his the driver, last I checked. So we haven't completely lost sight of our priorities.
Reaping the benefits of it in these parts are the Alamo City Golf Trail layouts, including the renovated Brackenridge Golf Course, and other daily-fee spreads such as Pecan Valley and Olympia Hills.
Jim Roschek, general manager of the Golf Trail, said that while numbers may be skewed by the ongoing renovations at the seven city-owned tracts, the number of rounds has been steady.
“What I've seen at times is there has been one or two little depressions in the past and things have looked up for us,” said Roschek, who arrived in San Antonio two years ago after overseeing the makeover of municipal golf in Kalamazoo, Mich. “Here, I don't know if it's because of the economy or that we have less (courses) open, but people are playing the munis.”
The reason, in part, are prices at $75 or less on the public layouts, an increasing temptation for players no longer willing to shell out fees in excess of $100 per round in trying financial times.