Monday, November 24, 2014

The Saga Of Dead Golf Courses (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of a "Saga Of A Dead Golf Course"   It is also the saga of what could happen to homeowners when things happen to the golf course.  It also continues a previous discussion we've stared on the demise of this sport and its impact on Oro Valley.

First, we start with an "HBO Real Sports" video on the demise of the sport.  The video is hosted by Brian Gumbal. In it, Williams visits a dead Florida golf course. According to the video, the course visited is now "...home to anything and everything that is not golf." He continues: "On average, 130 american courses have closed every year for the last 8 years."

This video, however, shows some innovative concepts that are being tested to revitalize the sport!

Dead Wild Hog On Dead Florida Golf Course
Then, there's the report last week by Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star: "Tucson City Golf, which is now operated on a daily basis by OB Sports, reported last week that play is down 10.1 percent in the first four months of the fiscal year. Those are frightening numbers, but also reflect the general drop in golf play nationally. The Greens Committee reported that the five city courses are $802,000 over budget in those four months. Only 15,899 rounds were played in that period, compared to 18,648 last year."

This is not yet a story about Oro Valley. It is a glimpse, however, into what could happen when a golf course in Oro Valley goes dark or if its use is changed to something entirely different.  Our courses are in trouble.  Take the course at the Hilton El Conquistador, for example. It is poorly maintained. According to one golfer visiting from Tucson: "The bunkers are a mess. There's slump block and other stuff. It's a sorry sight." The members of the Oro Valley Country Club are negotiating a bail out deal with their lender.  Trouble now. Trouble ahead.


Richard Furash, MBA said...

A number of years ago the ski industry faced a similar problem-- a decline in demand. What saved them? Skateboarding. Does golf have a potential savior? Has anybody seen soccer golf ? It seems to be a solution that is being tried at some courses in the east and midwest..
On the other hand, when supply exceeds demand the result is reduced supply-- closed courses.
Is there an opportunity in all of this for OV residents.?
Should we buy a course when they hit bargain basement prices? Can golf be a basis of differentiation for OV?
We are in the midst of developing a new general plan.. Does our parks and recs plan include golf?

These are a few thoughts. Add your own to them.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

The continued deterioration of the El Conquistador course(s) over the past 6 years finally prompted us to discontinue our club membership. We are purely recreational players but expected some semblance of course ambiance to be maintained for enjoyment while on the course. However, club management opted to allow the facility to deteriorate by reducing maintenance standards rather than maintain a semi-exclusive course standard. For us the membership cost just became too excessive for a deteriorating facility.

I am in agreement with Chuck Davis. The town should consider purchasing the El Conquistador Courses, possibly partially resident-funding the purchase with memberships. If city owned courses can prosper in the seasonally limited mid-west environment, then properly managed, they should do well here in Oro Valley. Probably a better investment for the town and our demographics than archery courses and soccer fields. I have not observed many senior citizens on the empty soccer fields recently, and never more than four or five cars at the archery park. If 50% of our population are senior citizens why not invest in a facility that we seniors can utilize.