Though my chosen profession, I’ve had the opportunity to play some pretty sweet golf courses throughout Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, Mexico and the Caribbean.
One of those journeys took me to Jamaica where I recall truly appreciating a dandy resort course – Cinnamon Hill outside of Montego Bay. It wasn’t overly long and, assuming that people chose the proper tees, made for an enjoyable day for all skill levels.
Most people who played Cinnamon Hill agreed with my assessment, but the course I heard most about was nearby White Witch, certainly a spectacular property but one with the potential to play Wicked Witch on the scorecards of those of us above a 10 handicap.
Needless to say, White Witch cast her evil spell on me and while I do have bragging rights about having played it, my more enjoyable day was spent at Cinnamon Hill, a course better suited to my skill level and, quite likely, the skill levels of most golfers visiting Jamaica.
Don’t get me wrong. I will reiterate that White Witch was an incredible golf course, but certainly here in Canada, the number of such courses being built has grown exponentially over the last 20 years, particularly in certain parts of the country.
This has hit the golf industry in different ways, one by creating a situation in which supply exceeds demand in the number of golf courses overall, some regions more than others.
It also led to “flavour of the month” courses, a term I heard quite often whenever a high end public course was built in the Toronto area 10 to 15 years ago.
That term referred to the brief popularity of new courses, usually at the expense of others that had been around longer, a sort of cannibalizing in which the new course fed off the golfers from another facility, only to suffer the same fate when another opened up.
While golf course rankings romanticize the high end golf facility, many within the golf industry feel that the proliferation of such courses is leading to longer rounds, therefore decreasing enjoyment of the game, and the budgets required for course maintenance, among other factors, is causing an affordability issue.
Mike Schurman, a Canadian PGA Master Professional, brought these points up in a blog I wrote on Monday and is leading a “Stimp 9.5” movement to tone down course conditions that may lead to golfers getting less enjoyment from the game and add to course maintenance budgets. You can read that blog here.
Apparently, a lot of people agree. Below are some excerpts of comments that came in from readers:
Simply put, if we make golf fun, affordable with a reasonable length of time to play, are we not more likely to attract new players, more so than what we are currently doing. I believe we will.
Einstein’s Theory of Insanity, was, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Has the Golf Industry or all of us gone insane? Can we not see the pattern we have all helped develop?
I can’t agree more. With our work with strategic planning for golf clubs in member and player surveys, the top two reasons people play golf are fun and social … Who would have thought?
Michael Schurman has it spot on – we have a 5600 yard playable but strategic golf course. Our greens are true – but I work with our Superintendent to keep them playable (lag putts welcome). We hear lots of comments about people playing the best round of their lives on our course – in under 4 hours. But we are not a $30 million golf course – and we do not have the cachet or the marketing budget to attract those extra rounds. We do not call ourselves a championship golf course – we have never hosted a national championship. We were at 25,000 rounds in 2000 – but have slipped since then with the stream of new courses in our area. We will hit 30,000 rounds when the market goes back to a balanced relationship between rounds demand and rounds supply.
You can read these comments and more in their entirety in the commentary section below the original blog or by clicking on the individual names.
Obviously, this topic has ignited some passion from the golf industry, which is an important aspect of GNN’s mandate. To continue this discussion, I’ve asked Kevin Thistle to chime in with his thoughts on this topic. You can read his blog here.
Of course, we’d like to hear from more GNN readers on this topic. Just add your thoughts in the Comments section below and, if you haven’t already done so, cast your vote on the GNN Poll, which deals with this subject as well.
Does golf in general make courses too difficult and time-consuming for the average golfer?
- YES (91%)
- NO (9%)