Let’s be clear.
Golf, and golf and country clubs, are not going away. All this talk about golf’s demise is wrong.
Yes, we built too many courses and supply exceeds demand. Yes, the younger screen obsessed generations are not joining clubs and enjoying the game at the level of their Baby Boomer parents. And yes, we have gone from 30 million golfers at the peak to 24 million participants today.
But, golf has been around awhile – over 500 years. Google its origins and you’ll find in predates the invention of the piano. Maybe a useless fact, but an important point regarding its longevity.
And while we are on surprising facts, did you know there are more golf courses in the United States than McDonalds? Hard to believe. Both have over 14,000, but golf Old Tom Morris’s legacies still outrank Ronald McDonald in terms of the number of facilities.
Consider these facts too:
• Golf contributes $84.1 billion to our economy, is responsible for $4 billion in charitable donations, and impacts two million jobs.
• 33% of junior golfers are girls and 24% of junior golfers are minorities. Female participation has increased from 18% six years ago to a current 24% - proof that more women are hitting the links.
• The PGA Tour is healthier than ever. Tiger is back, for now, but a stable of charismatic young players is right behind him.
• Topgolf, although more entertainment than golf, is introducing the game to millions who otherwise would never hold a club.
So, why are clubs still closing? It’s because the market is correcting and reacting to the overbuilding of golf courses that occurred in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Like all industries, we had our own bubble.
Until we reach equilibrium in demand and supply, the clubs that will survive and thrive will be those that are run like a business. That’s where Bobby Jones Links comes in. It’s professional management like ours that can make your club one of the winners.
The principals of Bobby Jones Links own the company - we are not driven by investor expectations and pressures. Our balance sheet is strong.
As a result, we don’t leverage our operational leadership across too many clubs. And unlike many companies in our business, we don’t require long term management agreements with large breakup fees. If you like what we do, you’ll keep us. For more than two decades our clients have renewed our management services more than any other company.