Deeds and WeedsMay 21, 2009

Birmingham Report: 'Probably Don't Get My Money's Worth'

Here is an interesting story on the Birmingham golf market that appeared last week in The Birmingham News. Judging from the story, Alabama's course supply boomed a little too well in the go-go '90s, and is now in a correction mode.

"From 1990 to 2000, the number of public courses in Alabama nearly doubled from 83 to 157, while the number of private courses fell from 117 to 95, according to the National Golf Foundation. The net gain was 52 courses, a 25 percent increase in the overall supply.

While public courses have maintained their presence since 2000, private clubs have continued to close. Today, out of 247 golf courses in the state, those offering yearly passes and pay-to-play packages outnumber private clubs nearly two to one."

The story includes the account of Johnny and Kip Dollar, father-and-son golfers who, in a nutshell, embody the challenge facing private country clubs these days. Johnny, the father, is a 69-year-old insurance salesman who plays three days a week. He was a longtime member at Chace Lake CC, which closed last year. Instead of joining another club, Johnny bought a season pass to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which has four courses in the Birmingham area.

Meanwnile, his son, Kip, belongs to Hoover CC, but he sounds like his commitment there is wavering.

"I probably do not get my money's worth," Kip said. "I'm still hanging in there, but if you figure in the rounds I play [at the Hoover club, the answer would be no."

-- G.R.