It’s no secret that rain has had a dramatic effect on the golf business in Southern Ontario this spring and we’re off to a slow start just like other regions in the country due to weather.
I hate talking about the weather because everyone does. A lot of times, we’ll say, `Nice weather we’re having,’ as small talk, but the weather is part of my business and it’s been a big story this year all across the country.
A perfect example is when we held our member-member event last week.
I said to Thom Charters, our director of golf course operations, that the weather was going to be good by noon and perfect by two o’clock. As most people know, I’m the eternal optimist and it could be raining or snowing and I would be saying that.
That prediction wasn’t looking too good either if you listened to the weather forecast, which called for rain all day.
For the two days leading up to our member-member, we heard, `Do you think we’ll get it off okay?’ and we replied, `You never know, can we really predict the weather?’
Sure enough, it was raining in the morning as it has so much in Southern Ontario this year. People were calling to say, `Are you going to cancel the event?’ and we said no. The line we use is that most golf tournaments are rain-or-shine events, so the show must go on.
Between 11 and 11:30 a.m., people started showing up for an afternoon shotgun and the fog started to roll in. People started asking, `We can’t play in this, can we?’ because it is pretty dangerous.
Here we were going from the weather report telling us to expect a nasty day to fog between 11 and noon. We had a 2 p.m. shotgun and, around 1:45, things started to turn in our favour. The fog started to dissipate enough that it was a go.
All of a sudden, around 2:15, we’re saying this isn’t that bad of a day. By 3:30, it was sunny and about 20 C out there.
The golf business is like the ski business or any other business that depends so heavily on weather.
Let’s say the weather forecast on Thursday calls for rain all day on Saturday and Sunday and nobody books a tee time. Instead of playing Saturday, they decide to go to the baseball game or something else.
Then, they wake up on Saturday morning and it’s sunny and warm and they haven’t booked their tee times. They’ve already made plans with family and friends that they can’t change, so golf loses tee times.
On the other hand, let’s say the forecast on Wednesday or Thursday calls for a nice day and people do book tee-off times. Then, they wake up on Saturday morning and it’s pouring, so they cancel.
There’s no doubt that the weather forecast can be tough on the golf business. People might look on the Internet and see that Saturday or Sunday calls for rain. Rain can be from two to three in the morning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play golf at 10 a.m.
I realize weather forecasting is not an exact science, so this isn’t a knock, but more of a commentary about how the weather and the way it’s presented can influence business.