A pessimist sees the glass half empty while an optimist, like myself, sees it as half full.
When it comes to the golf industry, some of the owners and operators sometimes fall into the first category while major associations like the National Golf Foundation, the PGA of America and even the PGA Tour tend to fall into the second category, always looking for that silver lining.
When it comes to getting a true picture about all the different numbers, there seems little doubt that the Pellucid group, headed by Jim Koppenhaver, is the right place to get an even clearer picture.. He and his staff are analysts, who see that the glass contains 50% of its potential capacity. That’s why I opted to go to a Pellucid presentation at the Golf Industry Show in Las Vegas last month.
Koppenhaver, for example, was quick to point out that Tour commissioner Tim Finchem mistakenly said on television that golf participation was growing and that there were 26.6 million golfers here in the U.S. Pellucid had the number at 26.3 million, down just slightly. The alarming statistic was that the bulk of the lost came in the involved golfer category and the 35-54 age group.
Koppenhaver claims the biggest obstacle to overcome is finding a way to absorb the number of courses that were built in the 1990s when the popular sentiment was we could build a course a day and not meet the anticipated demand. It’s a buyer’s market when the supply exceeds the demand. While the trend is going in the right direction as there were 150 course closings in 2011 and only 30 new ones, he still feels it’s too slow and another 100 courses need to be eliminated.
The Pellucid report reveals Mother Naturer played a factor in the lost of rounds and green fees in 2011. This could be changing for 2012 as a later note from Pellucid pointed to playability hours being on the rise in January and February thanks to one of the mildest winters in history.
Speaking directly to owners and operators of courses, Koppenhaver said, “If you are waiting for a good year, get out. There’s no white knight out there. You need to be making it now to survive.”
While Pellucid seemed to be taking a wait and see attitude about the PGA’s Golf 2.0, count me among the optimist, willing to give Darrell Crall, my successor as executive director of the Northern Texas PGA, and his staff of nine regional managers chances to implement some new programs designed to grow the game.
One way golfers can help is to try and bring one new golfer into the game in 2012.