Is the golf course market overbuilt? This well-researched, wide-ranging article in Friday's Chicago Tribune, while not making any sweeping pronouncements, makes a good case that it is.
It cites numerous examples of the realities of today's golf course economy, many of which have already been chronicled on this blog and elsewhere: layoffs at high-end resorts such as Sea Island; modified membership programs at private and semi-private courses; and the shuttering of courses that are outstanding in every aspect except the most important one -- their ability to attract customers.
The most interesting anecdote in the article -- for me, anyway -- was the news that Tom Wargo -- a veteran Champions Tour player (his triumph in the 1993 Senior PGA Championship was one of the better Cinderella victories in senior tour annals) and golf course owner in Centralia, Ill. -- wants to get out of the business. He has put his course, Greenview CC, on the market for $1.9 million.
Despite cutting green fees recently from $23 per round to $12, Wargo's facility is still struggling. "Nobody is making a living," Wargo, 66, told the Tribune. "Golf's not in a good position right now, even though we have the No. 1 recognized athlete in the world [Tiger Woods]. It's not helping the business at all."