I talk with a lot of other golf facilities in our area and I find that participation in golf is great. The problem is that five or 10 years ago, we just overbuilt and now demand isn’t keeping up with supply.
I think that people are still loving golf, spending some money and playing, but we are a still a little overbuilt and that could apply to major urban areas or small towns that have several golf courses compared to the population.
What needs to happen is that participation rates have to catch up to the supply. The demand is good, but we’re just oversupplied, so the game does need to grow.
Right now, participation is staying level based on people playing 20 rounds per year instead of 30 because a person has been laid off or a business person has seen income drop due to the economy of the past couple of years. Maybe people don’t have the money to play those extra 10 rounds per year.
As a result, they’re playing to the level they feel comfortable with, but if the economy continues to improve, they may get back to where they were three years ago.
We built a lot of extra golf courses in a short period of time and the number of golfers didn’t keep up with that and how could they? Now, we need to introduce more people to the game in order for demand to catch up with supply.
We have to get juniors in there. Golf Canada has the Golf in Schools program and these things are going to help. I like the Golf in Schools program because my little boy will be in school with all walks of life, all demographics and various ethnic groups.
They’re the ones we have to get playing. Let’s just get them playing and I think that will help us down the road.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s not like a switch you turn on and suddenly, there are 100,000 extra golfers. It will take awhile as you make women, juniors and people from other cultures comfortable with the game.
With golf, you’ve got to go to the range, get comfortable with hitting the ball, then go to the golf course and get comfortable there. It’s a game that we need to introduce to people at a young age and in order to do that, we can’t keep talking about the future.
The time to act is now.