There was a thorough report on the Las Vegas golf market by Jennifer Robison in Sunday's edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Not surprisingly, the golf market in Sin City, according to Robison, is struggling. I say "not surprisingly," given all the factors working against Las Vegas right now: Its housing market is among the most depressed of any city in the nation; tourist travel, the backbone of the Las Vegas economy, is way down; and the recession has effected everyone's discretionary spending, even full-time residents.
Still, there are bright spots. It isn't hard for Las Vegas golfers to get a tee time these days, and green fee rates are dropping. For example, at one Las Vegas course, Angel Park, weekday green fees are now $54, down almost $90 from a few years ago. Robison writes, "It's a great time to be a local golfer," a point elaborated on by Michael Schroeder, a Las Vegas resident and avid player:
"They need you here. They want you here," Schroeder said. "They used to have high prices, and they never tried to have deals for local people because they wanted the tourists more."
A couple of Robison's conclusions confused me, however. On the one hand, most of the Las Vegas courses she profiles sound empty and anxious for customers (Schroeder told Robison he counted just 12 other golfers during a recent round at Summerlin GC). On the other hand, she quotes local golf officials who insist Las Vegas avoided the great golf business pitfall of the 1990s -- it is not oversaturated with new courses.
If the economy turns around and the tourists return, the experts are probably right. But a lot of empty golf courses suggests otherwise. We'll see.