We have begun to hear the battle cry for helping improve the sport of golf on a few different fronts lately. When I Googled "Golf Industry in Trouble" one thing I noticed was that the first couple of pages of hits were from articles posted back in 2008, and one interesting one was from 2005. So I guess this idea isn't a new one, but from what I browsed through, the good news is that even back in the mid-00's, those involved in the "golf world" were already identifying potential issues and finding ways to deal with the challenges in front of them.
Every golfer, not just golf equipment manufacturers or golf course owners, are stakeholders in the sport. It's imperative that we all consider what we can bring to the table, especially on a local level, to continue to assure that golf is available not only to us but to all fellow golfers, in particular, the generations to come.
The good news is that most of our City leaders see the value in having a golf course in our community. Since I'm in one of the "snowy states" our season is at best about 6 months long, so we need to cram a lot of activity to get the needed revenues to operate and improve our course. What I have learned is that some things are in our control and others are not. The weather played a large factor in less playable days in 2011 compared to 2010 and it also impacted the spring growth and summer maintenance.
But what I also realized is that each one of us that shares a passion, or just appreciates the opportunity to play golf in our town, can be a part of improving our financial condition. It's not easy. A change in mindset might be needed. From my experience, there can sometimes be the attitude that golfers aren't vested in their course...they come and play, maybe have some food or drink, but that's often where the relationship ends . Many golfers have no idea (or maybe no interest) in knowing about the challenges and struggles the course is going through.
A sense of ownership or a sense of pride as a community member can really make a difference in people caring about the success and future of the course. Sometimes a trust may need to be rebuilt, especially if golfers have expressed concerns or suggestions for improvement and their voices landed on deaf ears.
Late last fall, after the season was over and it was apparent that we didn't have a prosperous season, I had some great conversations with a few people who share a common passion for golf. From there, a small group was formed with the purpose of seeing a better golf course and finding ways to increase revenue. I can't tell you how inspiring it is to sit at a table with people that want to see better things and are willing to do something to help.
One of the things I'm focusing on is our own community golfing base. While one of our main industries is tourism, I know our golf course can become better by both engaging our membership to share in thet mission of a better course and to introduce (or welcome back) community members not currently playing golf. When you're a small town golf course with a scrappy operating budget, sometimes you must rely on the time and talents of other folks who care. Without that, there may be no more golf.
I believe that golf on every level, whether it's a local municipal course or a private country club, needs each member to see golf with a new set of eyes...to see the opportunity share the game and appreciate all of the positive things it can bring. I read last fall that a beautiful Tom Lehman designed golf course in Minnesota closed. It had lots of things going for it, but apparently it just couldn't cover its costs. If things are great where you are, take a look around and see if you can share your golf passion at other courses or in other programs that might need help. Golf needs you!
As I look ahead with anticipation to our upcoming golf season, it's my goal to bring a positive energy into our golf course community and encourage not only golfers, but our community and City leaders to be partners in making our golf course a success. That means dispelling the notion that "only golfers benefit from a golf course". It also means that long-range planning and a closer look at operations could help find more money for improvements. I'm focusing on looking at ways to increase play, so if anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them!
PS...after going this most of this winter thinking we were going to get a jumpstart on the golf season, we had a blizzard yesterday! That Mother Nature...funny gal.
Filed under: Minnesota, passion, Golf, Cathy Erickson, municipal course, increasing play