On the Upswing
A recession feels particularly dreary when it affects an avid golfer's game. Clubs languish in the car trunk or even — worst of all horrors — tucked into some cobwebby corner of the garage.
The recent economic downturn created a pall across most industries, but travel and leisure took a particularly hard hit as discretionary spending dwindled, belts tightened and luxuries got curtailed. For golfers, that translated into fewer rounds of play. Business meetings once held on the courses or in club banquet halls shifted to in-office talks, where executives sighed under artificial lighting, reminiscing about lush fairways and "19th hole" camaraderie. Sound familiar?
Well, clear some time on your calendar this summer, because golf is back, baby. Here are a handful of reasons why the game is on:
The economy is slowly crawling back upward
There are numerous, eloquent ways to describe the recent economic downturn and its effects, but let's be realistic: the past couple years were downers.
Not only did businesses have to consider or implement layoffs, but also spending for once-standard perks like conferences, parties, training and travel got axed. Executives fond of ducking out early once or twice a week to play rounds of golf, instead saw their time compressed into rounds of meetings about wearying topics like expenditure cuts and hiring freezes. In turn, the golf courses suffered, too.
"We've just been through the worst two years in the industry that I can recall," says George Carroll, General Manager and COO at Interlachen Country Club in Edina. "We saw a large amount of fallout in terms of memberships." The club usually carries a waiting list of about 50 to 60 people, and last year, that list dwindled to just two potential members. And Interlachen was one of the fortunate ones — many private clubs that usually have waiting lists didn't have anyone on them for the past few years.
The banquet business at clubs was affected as well, Carroll adds, but that's starting to bounce back, just as the waiting list is beginning to grow again. He says, "The economy is improving, everybody feels that they've weathered the storm. So, now they're waiting to get back out there and enjoy the short season that we have. It looks to be a good golf season coming up."