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Breezy Point

Local Golf
August 22, 2017

RJ Smiley

The Psychic is continually asked: "What will save the golf industry?"

As the Psychic takes two deep breaths, he peers deeply into his crystal ball searching for the salvation of the once booming industry. He does not see the grim reaper. He does not see a hearse at the front door of a dying golf course. He does not see golf holes the size of trashcans. He does not see soccer players replacing "real golfers" on the tee sheet.

Instead, the Psychic sees 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching age 65 every day for the next 10 years. He sees the best-educated, wealthiest and healthiest generation in the history of the world ready to celebrate their retirement years with travel and recreation. He sees these "active seniors" playing golf along with other physically and mentally stimulating activities well into their 90's.

Looking Back
Years ago, the Psychic's crystal ball revealed to him that a disaster was coming to the golf industry. The Psychic looked up from his hypnotic gaze shrugged his shoulders and states, "Economics 101: The rule of supply and demand. It was inevitable! With the same number of golfers playing approximately the same number of rounds on an increasing number of golf courses, the industry is marching off a cliff." As the TV set inside the Psychic's crystal ball played horror movies of tumbleweeds blowing across abandoned golf courses, new courses continued to be built. Those newly opened golf courses could not attract enough brand new first time golfers to fill their tee sheet. "Rounds played at the new golf course must be rounds stolen from established golf course operations in the area," stated the Psychic.

The Psychic's crystal ball failed to reveal the burst of the real estate bubble and its devastating effect to the economy as a whole and the golf industry in particular. The result - the timing of the cliff disaster was shortened. Instead of having the same number of golfers playing the same number of rounds on an increasing number of golf courses, fewer golfers played fewer rounds on an increasing number of golf courses. As competition forced a reduction in the price of green fees to attract rounds, thin profit margins drowned golf operations in a sea of red ink.

The Psychic Reveals The Future
Question to Psychic: "How will the Baby Boom generation affect the golf industry?"

As the haze lifts inside the crystal ball, the Psychic sees an increasing number of retired and semi-retired people taking up golf for the first time. He sees aggressive programs being implemented by municipal golf courses to bring these Baby Boomers, who have both the time and the money, into the game. He sees leagues developed for first time players. He sees free golf lessons to improve skills and shorten the learning curve for new players. He sees savvy municipalities that actively market the "active golf course lifestyle" reaping benefits for years.

The flat screen inside the crystal ball plays videos of golf courses setting aside tee times for retired golfers who play with a group on a regular basis. Understanding that "regularly scheduled" golfers will play rounds on days when weather is marginal. The course operators' goal is to increase each existing golfer's annual rounds by 10.

The Psychic sees State Golf Associations across America copying the MGA's Senior Tour. Giving senior players a schedule of competitive events that satisfy a desire, and increase income to golf courses.

The Psychic tells of further golf course failures. He sees the battle seasoned golf course operators doing a better job of defining their market and the product they sell to the golfing public. He sees operators creating shorter courses with new tees specially designed for seniors, 5,700 to 5,900 yards. He sees golf course operators eliminating many forced carries to improve scoring and maintain pace of play. But, the Psychic does see the pace of play for golf courses that cater to retired golfers - slowing. The Psychic sees dynamic pricing to attract a different class of golfer at different times of day on different days of the week. He sees retired golfers who can play anytime choosing the least expensive tee times - in a self-segregating process.

The Psychic forecasts that private clubs will remain a small percentage of the total golf course market. The super rich will continue to be attracted to the exclusive element of belonging to a prestigious club.

With the information revealed from the crystal ball the Psychic has personally invested in retirement real estate in the Sun Belt. The picture is perfectly clear that "Golf Oriented" retirement communities will continue to prosper. These well thought out developments provide everything that most retiring seniors desire. The most important of these is a place to socialize and make new friends. The crystal ball tells the Psychic that retirees moving from their homes, where they have lived for years and raised their families, biggest fear is the ability to meet people and make new friends. Golf oriented retirement communities have focused on these desires and provide a variety of activities to quickly make friends - from reading clubs to yoga classes and from bike clubs to water aerobics.

These retirement golf communities provide well-conditioned golf courses that are aesthetically beautiful and offer a challenging golf experience. But most of all they provide the retired golfer and their spouse a central place to mingle and get to know people.

As the Psychic continues to impart what the crystal ball reveals. He talks of the post golf "happy hour" that is enjoyed by golfers and their spouses. These happy hours occur at various locations in and around the golf community. In some scenes viewed by the Psychic the party takes place in the clubhouse, but he witnesses many of these post golf afternoon gatherings become like a moving poker game. Residents in these communities drive their golf carts to the home of the "host for the day." The Psychic sees many new residents to the golf oriented retirement community having to adjust to the "fast pace party lifestyle."

With time and money and a desire for adventure, the Psychic sees senior golfers as a force in the golf travel industry. These golfers want to travel and visit unique locations where something besides golf is offered. The Psychic sees this group playing golf near National and State Parks and unique casinos on reservations.

The Psychic also sees the motor home industry maintaining the sales pace of the past, as many retired citizens simply want to visit the nooks and crannies of America. The Psychic sees these older, but not yet old, people "living large."

The Psychic watches with humor as he sees the children of the Baby Boom generation frantically running from work to soccer practice. From dog obedience classes to their shrink. From Whole Foods to the Apple Store while their parents, the 10,000 Baby Boomers who reach retirement age each day enjoy leisure rounds of golf and extended happy hours far into the future.

Thirty years from now, the Psychic sees these same golfers playing from shorter tees as the sun is setting!

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