Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I often play our executive golf course with a friend I call a true recreational golfer. He enjoys playing and even seems to enjoy his frustrations as he plans a shot to the right and it goes left. However, he has a very neat way of getting over bad shots, not by blaming his golf clubs, but praising them.

OK. there's a catch.

His complete bag of golf clubs, I mean putter, bag, cart, woods and irons cost him only $99.00 - brand new! He is more proud of what he paid for his clubs than what they are, something like: Bizmo-Zanger X-1000s, I believe one of Wally World's premiere models. So he hits it left when he's looking right, yet justifies the error by pointing out that he shouldn't expect anything else from a $99.00 set of golf clubs - that included a bag and cart - even wood covers!

Here I'm playing the best Callaways, a Nike driver, Ping putter, Taylor hybrids, and have no excuses. While he smiles at a shank, I frown when my drive is ten feet right of the sprinkler head (I'm really not that good).

Maybe my friend (I call him the Big 'K') has found how to enjoy golf to the fullest. He hits a shots to places on the golf course I didn't know were there. He shows only brief disappointment, then happily waves over his $99.00 set of golf clubs (like Vanna White over a letter) - a set that even included a club cleaner-scraper tool. "What the heck!", he says, "If I'd spent $2,200.00 on these clubs I'd be throwing them (like my partner with the Callaways) after that shot. But with these $99.00 beauties, that even included a cart handle score card holder, are doing exactly what I expected!"

We need to remember that golf is supposed to be enjoyed. The big K improved his enjoyment by acquiring the most golf equipment for the money he could find and avoided the illusion that you can buy a good golf game if you're willing to spend the money. The only problem is that I won't let him put his clubs in my trunk beside my Callaways. I don't want any shanks spreading to my stuff.



Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm 70-years old, losing distance, and need OPPs to break 80!

 I can't get home on 400+-yard par-4s.

I have very mixed enthusiasm about playing golf as a 70-year old, because I'm losing distance every year. It was only 5-years ago I could reach a 225-yard green with a 5-wood, even a 3-iron if I had a tail wind. Now I tee it up with the driver and reach that green only if I really catch it on the sweet spot.

I'm working out at the gym and I'll bet I'm stronger than when I was 65.

Anyway, my enthusiasm to play is low because I have real trouble reaching par-4s over 400-yards. Then I see the tour on TV playing 500+-yard par-4s. That kinda make one fell like a pip-squeak, doesn't it?

Back when I was still playing hockey (until 1992), I realized I had trouble finishing a shift without worrying I'd collapse on the ice (shifts were between 30-seconds and one minute). Having moved to Florida, I was able to give up hockey gracefully (at age 52). I can't escape golf that easily with golf courses all around me, and many courses I can always play for free (as their consultant).

So, as a 70-year old, at least I get to move up to the white tees, but the courses are still 6500-yards with two or three par-4s I can only reach with a really great drive and a 3-wood. However, my problem is intensified, because I was never really a par golfer. I was once down to a 2 handicap and stayed around 5 for several years, but now I have real trouble breaking 80. In fact 83 is looking like a good score for me today.

But I would like to score in the 70's once in a while, and not just because I sunk a bunch of 30-footers. It's tough when to par the 400-yard holes I can only do it with an OPP (one putt par).

Now I'm trying to improve my flexibility, because I know (and used to teach) senior golfers that they lose distance and flight height because their back-swings generally get flatter and shorter with age - due to lack of flexibility. In fact, I went to this great You Tube site ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaDXNjFjjnU ) showing the six best stretch exercises. I'm working on those stretches with the hope of increasing my distance by adding to my flexibility. My goal is to reach that 225-yard green with a 3-wood.

It's November 22, 2010. I'll note here the day I reach the 225-yard green after doing all these stretches.  If I score in the seventies on at least 26 putts, I'll bragg about that too.

Keep in mind in may never happen.





Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Plight of Hundreds, Maybe Thousands of Golf Courses

Many 'experts' in golf blame the current economy or the 9/11 disaster for the golf industry's chgallenges today. However, I saw the problem developing back in the early 90's. As an associate with Hayward and Associates, golf course mortgage brokerage firm in Tampa, Florida, we were learning as ealy as 1993 that many golf courses were unable to pay their bills. Yet, since 1993 they built at least 300 golf courses a year for ten years!

In the mid 90's I was circulating faxes to management companies with a slogan, "Golf courses don't create new golfers. They have to get theirs from other golf courses." I saw exactly what was happening while managing Oak Ford Golf Club in Sarasota, Florida.

Now I'm not a rocket scientist, but if my 'fair' share of golf players among ten golf courses is 50,000 rounds, or one tenth of the 500,000 neighborhood rounds, and two more golf courses open..... Duh! Didn't my share shrink to one twelfth of 500,000 or 41,666 rounds? My share dropped by 8,334 rounds, or over 16.6% almost immediately. Actually, the effect of two new golf courses in the Sarasota marketplace affected rounds virtually exactly to the math. In fact, between 1990 and 2000 they added at least ten new golf courses to the area. Where the hell did they think these golf players were coming from?

Many feasibility studies were entirely misleading, which lead to the oversupply of golf courses. Many predicted annual growth in rounds and revenues almost to oblivion, which I called the 'Excel Trap'. I even fell for it for a few years.

The Excel Trap was (still is) an easy spreadsheet function where you took a set of assumptions and ran the growth multiples out as many years as you wished. I mean, you could take, say 40,000 rounds and increase them by 5% a year and, just like magic, you forecast over 62,000 rounds in year ten. Keep going and you break 100,000 rounds in year-20.

What's worse, they also added an inflation factor to the price of a round of golf (I admit I did it back then too), so the revenue factor also kept rising. So not only did rounds increase by 5% every year, but so did prices. By running prices up every year (1995 through 2005), by year ten we were forecasting $2,887,943 in fee revenue averaging  $46.54 green fees from 62,053 rounds. We know now that those forecats never happened. In fact, it wound up, as golfers call a hook when you played a slice - the old "double-cross" as the ball flies even further into the woods. Not only did the 62,000 rounds never materialize, they're only getting $28,00 a round in 2005, not $46.54.

I didn't mean to talk you ear off with this posting, but my point is not only did none of the forecasts hold true, they never anticipated that there were going to be fewer golf players tomorrow morning than there are today - and that's pretty well a fact!

We need to grow the game or watch it flounder for years to come - maybe even worse.

BTW: Does this scenario sound familiar?: Community Golf Course War

What are your thoughts?