Visiting my parents in Southwest Florida this week. Their golf community lost their golf course a couple years back and it’s super sad to see.

All the residents came here for social golf, sunshine and fun…now they have to take their games on the road.

I talked with a group of them about strategies for underperforming clubs and how things could have been different.

Sable golf course closing

The Tragedy of Golf Course Closings

Visiting my parents in Southwest Florida this week. Their golf community lost their golf course a couple years back and it’s super sad to see.

All the residents came here for social golf, sunshine and fun…now they have to take their games on the road.

I talked with a group of them about strategies for underperforming clubs and how things could have been different.

What Lessons Can Be Learned?

Well, the truth is not all golf courses can be saved. This club was owned by an individual owner/operator who seemed to be extracting as much short-term profit from the operation as possible.

There was lots of debt and probably no feasible way out. He claimed bankruptcy and a lot of people got hurt – vendors, members, employees, and the community.

I wish we had been able to have discussions with the owner several years back before they reached that point of no return.

Now, I know all owners aren’t in it for the best of reasons…and it sounds like this one falls in that category – although I’m only hearing one side of the equation (lots of sour grapes of course).

I do know that a golf course turning to tumbleweeds is NEVER the highest and best use of any property.

I Believe There Are Lots of Solutions

I feel very strongly that we could have helped this club. It sits in a growing and thriving local market, with minimal competition in their price/value range.

It’s apparent that there was little to no effort expended to seek out marketing opportunities and to drive new new business in the door. The owner wasn’t present, wasn’t well liked, and the culture at the club was lacking…I’ll say pride with staff and many members.

Poor culture is really hard to recover from…and it comes from the top. Beyond reviving the culture, some good old fashioned marketing would have had big impact. Anything at all would have brought reasonable ROI…the market is rife for value-based golf here.

Literally executing ANY marketing at all could have saved this club…never mind something clever, calculated and data-driven. There still is not a comparable club within 15 miles with a population of over a million people.

Sometimes it’s just about moving in some sort of direction…even if it’s not perfect. It could have saved the club in this community.

 

Casey Bourque
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Casey Bourque

Principal at KPI Golf Management
Casey is our marketing and business development guru. He's a published golf author and comes from a golf operations and marketing background. He owns a web development agency called Web Design Phoenix - pioneering programs like PGAGolfDay.com that has raised over $3 Million for PGA Sections and golf orgs nationwide. Fun Facts: Casey's Youtube channel has over 2 million minutes watched, he's also played on the PGA Tour, including the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock Hills.
Casey Bourque
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