The Pellucid Perspective - July 2011 - (Page 17)

THE LAST WORD Musings from the rough n one of our earlier editions of this publication last fall, we quoted Ken Arimitsu, a veteran golf course broker who has teamed with Keith Cubba of Colliers International to represent, among others, the Stallion Mountain Golf Course in the Las Vegas area, as saying that Stallion Mountain’s salability would be his personal bellwether for the golf industry’s health. Basically, Arimitsu said that if Stallion Mountain couldn’t find a buyer, given the fact that it had been taken over by the FDIC when its lender bank failed, the course itself had received positive reviews before it shut down, and perhaps best of all, it had a sweetheart water deal, he saw little immediate hope for the industry. Well, Arimitsu and the industry can breathe easier, sort of. Stallion Mountain did finally sell recently, to the Coloradobased Tartan Golf Group, for $3.8 million. That the course sold is, I suppose, the good news. The perhaps not-so-good news is that the investor group that previously owned the course before going belly up reportedly paid nearly $24 million for it. Admittedly the FDIC is not known to be keen on keeping defunct golf courses on its inherited books, so that depressed the sale price somewhat, but that price has to be better news for the buyer than the seller. OB Sports, which runs other courses in the Vegas market, will operate the course for Tartan, reportedly as a private course that also caters to outings. I Tee It Forward baby steps In the past few weeks, the number of courses listed as featuring Tee It Forward policies on the PGA’s Play Golf America site has skyrocketed to more than 1,100, probably more by the time this reaches your inbox. There is, apparently, some lag time involved before the listing becomes reality. I noticed that one of the San Diego courses I regularly terrorize was on the list, so I popped over to see what, exactly, they were doing to implement the Tee It Forward program. I asked the two lads at the front desk, the starter and a marshal – I might as well have asked for a discourse on quantum physics, or something equally unfathomable, like the USGA handicap system. None of them had ever heard of Tee It Forward. When I gave them a brief rundown on the concept, the marshal and starter said, “Well, we have five sets of tees, and one of our other courses puts temporary markers in the fairway for juniors and beginners.” Uh, yeah, and how often do you see groups playing from tees they have no business playing? “All the time” was the answer. When I asked the marshal what he does about that, he said, “Well, if they get behind, we try to speed ‘em up.” No mention of “moving” them up a tee box. He didn’t look as if he was looking forward to the task. Barney Adams, a logical man who is obviously familiar with the golfer ego, is adamant that some other system for designating appropriate tee boxes than the traditional red, white and blue is going to have to be used to encourage golfers to play tees appropriate to their length off the tee and ability. Adams suspects, and I’m sure he’s right, that most male golfers who age 200 yards or less off the tee are not just going to swallow the old “play from the reds (women’s)” stigma and move up to them. Hopefully those 1,100-plus courses will eventually incorporate something more tangible in the way of tee markers, signage and pro shop support, rather than merely being included in the PGA’s “sent email” list. Otherwise the only markers remaining from Tee It Forward will be headstones in the graveyard of failed grow-the-game initiatives. The annual Multi-Course Owners meeting held by the National Golf Course Owners Association in Monterey earlier this month provided attendees with two vastly different takes on growing the game. Scott McNealy, former Sun Microsystems CEO and co-founder of the Alternative Golf Association (nee Flogton), hosted a cocktail party and made a presentation on the AGA’s assault on the game’s stuffiness and rules-mania. PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka made a presentation on Golf 2.0, a study commissioned by the PGA to hopefully assist in motivating 60 million-plus people classified as “interested” in playing golf to some who are actually playing it. (For a closer look at Golf 2.0, see Jim Koppenhaver’s analysis on page 2). Steranka reportedly told the owners on hand that the PGA is ramping up additional player development initiatives. He also reportedly suggested that the owners in attendance might find it helpful to hire two additional (PGA) professionals to concentrate primarily on player development. I don’t have to have been in attendance (although I’ve talked to some who were) to tell you how that went over with already budget-tightening owners. I, and my associates at Pellucid Corp., have talked to a number of individuals over the years who, because they are PGA members, don’t want to be quoted, but who feel that the PGA and its members should focus on their original mission, which was to provide professional instruction in playing the game. Numerous studies have shown that people who play better, play more. Personally, I could care less whether the person who takes my money at the counter or in the shop is a PGA professional, but I suspect most people feel better if the person teaching them the game has the PGA certification. Unfortunately, particularly when dealing with beginners or juniors, many of the programs may not be particularly lucrative for the professional doing the teaching, as opposed to the time spent on the lesson tee with customers willing to pay a hefty fee to shave a few strokes off their handicaps. As one veteran course owner told me recently, “In order for any of these grow-the-game programs to work, they have to be implemented at the facility level, and to get pros to do that, you have to figure out a way to incentivize them somehow.” That may be a tad too strong, and there are some owners, like Ken Morton at Morton Golf in Sacramento who have made player development a condition of employment, but for the most part, if it doesn’t put money in the pros’ pockets, they are going to devote the lion’s share of their energies to what does. Nobody said saving the industry would be easy. —Jim Dunlap The Pellucid PersPecTive 17 http://WWW.PELLUCIDCORP.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - July 2011

The Pellucid Perspective - July 2011
The PGA of America hits the restart button on player development
Permanent tee times, Chicago style
Positive P.R. leads to course record revenue month
Exploring the alternative golf universe
Jun 2011 YtD weather impact, May 2011 YtD utilization
Life at the top of the market
Minneapolis, MN Core Business Statistical Area (CBSA)
Comings & goings
Musings from the rough

The Pellucid Perspective - July 2011