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David_Tepper

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #225 on: February 02, 2020, 01:34:03 PM »
To inject a new (and possibly obtuse ;) ) angle to this discussion, I wonder if the failure of Scotland to produce a golfer (either man or woman) in the past 20 years capable of competing at the very highest level of the game has contributed in some way to the decline of golf there.

Currently Robert Macintyre (at #65) is the only Scot in the top 100 in the world in the men's rankings. There is not a single Scottish women in the top 100.

I firmly believe that having sporting heroes and champions does create interest in a sport at the youth and grassroots levels and can contribute significantly to the growth of that sport.  Why Scotland has failed in golf is a mystery to me.

Lou_Duran

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #226 on: February 02, 2020, 04:16:36 PM »
David,


A way to evaluate your wondering is to compare and contrast the golf economies of other areas/countries which have produced the high level golfers you allude to.  The British Isles probably is a good laboratory as England and Ireland with a similar historically strong golf culture have borned a number of the world's finest golfers.  Taking into account economic differences, are courses in the rest of the BI doing that much better than Scotland's?


I agree with your last paragraph.  Tiger Woods brought a lot of previously non-golfers into the game and he continues to be one of the best draws in any sport.  I don't know to what extent the new golfers enhance the culture or whether they sustain the game as in the past (I know operators who much prefer organic growth, but that's another topic).


Duncan,


You are absolutely right about supply and demand.  I don't know anything outside of what I read in these pages about Golf Now and the opinions vary considerably- some think it is the devil's work enticing owners and managers to do crazy things against their interests; others believe that it entices incremental play, at least in the number of rounds if not total revenues, while bringing new people into the game.


BTW, I came to the game reluctantly, only because my buddies talked me into going with them to a very cheap daily-fee course.  It only took one round to lure me in.  Perhaps I am the exception, but I got to believe there are many potential golfers out there not too different than me.


Golf Now may not be used optimally by the trade, but dynamic pricing seems to be rather common.  Like with any other consumer product, one has to be careful/selective with its use so as not to cannibalize higher value rounds.  Me, I guess I have a lot more faith in how people with skin in the game run their business- I talk to a lot of golfers, many who believe that they know more about golf operations and maintenance than the professionals who are paid to run the golf courses. ::)


Years ago Ron Whitten wrote an article in Golf Digest about how golf was becoming like the pizza business.  I can't find the article nor the thread on this site, but there was a lot of good stuff in both that have some relevance to this thread.

Ulrich Mayring

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #227 on: February 02, 2020, 04:30:30 PM »
Jon,

to me it sounds slightly over-reaching to stipulate that all Scottish clubs that offer greenfee discounts have no clue about their running costs. I'm sure you're right about a few, but I'm also sure you haven't actually checked all their books, but that you are somehow extrapolating from your personal experiences to the rest of the world. But other businesses might be run differently than yours or under different conditions.

Also, if you are running a business, then you almost certainly know the difference between fixed and variable costs. As the term "fixed costs" implies, you have to pay your greenkeeper etc. the same amount of money whether someone shows up to play or not. The interesting part in terms of greenfee discounts is the variable cost you incur, if one additional round is played. Many golf clubs treat that number as near zero, which in their view makes a $15 greenfee viable.

Of course this is not the whole story. Variable costs are tricky and to a certain extent subject to definition. And there are strategic problems such as devaluation of membership or reluctance to pay the full rate in peak times. So I totally agree with you that it could be a very bad idea to offer greenfee discounts for any number of reasons. But to say that everyone, who does it, is incompetent and doesn't know their running costs, seems quite overbearing to me. In fact, I would argue that those offering greenfee discounts do it in large part because of the pressure of running costs, i. e. they know exactly how high they are!

Maybe they simply need liquidity fast to pay some bills. Or they define their variable cost of a round of golf differently than you define yours. There is a lot of room for variance before we have to resort to incompetence as the only explanation.

Ulrich
Golf Course Exposť (300+ courses reviewed), Golf CV (how I keep track of 'em)

Peter Pallotta

Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #228 on: February 02, 2020, 04:57:31 PM »
David T
I was alluding to that with my reference to the 'infrastructure' and Sean made explicit it in mentioning junior hockey & the well run organizations that support it, ie:

Each and every year, year in and year out, Canada's hockey infrastructure produces (even now, with the growth in U.S. and European hockey) significantly more good hockey players and gets more of them to the NHL than does any other country in the world -- and every few years it also produces the kind of stars and superstars that youngsters look up to and that (no doubt, it seems to me) spur on grass-roots participation, thus further strengthening (and financially supporting) that infrastructure.

But: whether that 'virtuous circle' is the *cause* of hockey being (and continuing to be) Canada's 'national game' or instead its *result* I don't know. A little of both, I suppose.

Which is why I was asking how Scots see the game of golf today, in their own country, i.e. because that virtuous circle of a healthy infrastructure/ecosystem producing stars who in turn enhance participation rates and thus further strengthen that infrastructure seems based -- in part at least -- on a game (hockey or golf) *already* being embraced as the 'national one'.

P           
« Last Edit: February 02, 2020, 06:21:42 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Brian_Ewen

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #229 on: February 02, 2020, 08:45:26 PM »
It's difficult to knock it from their point of view but it doesn't help the traditional golf club model.


But its also the price of clubs, balls etc etc.


Against other sports, its way out of kilter.

Brian_Ewen

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #230 on: February 02, 2020, 08:49:23 PM »
To inject a new (and possibly obtuse ;) ) angle to this discussion, I wonder if the failure of Scotland to produce a golfer (either man or woman) in the past 20 years capable of competing at the very highest level of the game has contributed in some way to the decline of golf there.


All the tennis clubs that I know are doing very well, which I think has a lot to do with Andy Murray.

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #231 on: February 03, 2020, 12:18:16 AM »
It's difficult to knock it from their point of view but it doesn't help the traditional golf club model.


But its also the price of clubs, balls etc etc.


Against other sports, its way out of kilter.


Clubs donít have to cost a lot of money. This is an entertaining video where a PGA pro buys a set of charity shop clubs together with a bag and balls for under £25 and proceeds to play a round of golf with them...


https://youtu.be/NrmZ1v_N0ns
« Last Edit: February 03, 2020, 02:09:09 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Bernie Bell

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #232 on: February 03, 2020, 11:25:14 AM »
So some say golf in Scotland too expensive for the average citizen.  Others say golf is too inexpensive for the clubs to sustain themselves.  Can both be true?

David_Tepper

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #233 on: February 03, 2020, 12:28:16 PM »
A way to evaluate your wondering is to compare and contrast the golf economies of other areas/countries which have produced the high level golfers you allude to.  The British Isles probably is a good laboratory as England and Ireland with a similar historically strong golf culture have borned a number of the world's finest golfers.  Taking into account economic differences, are courses in the rest of the BI doing that much better than Scotland's?

Lou D. -

Since there are no 10-page threads currently running here bemoaning the state of golf in Ireland or England, that admittedly anecdotal evidence might imply golf there is healthier than golf in Scotland. ;)

Scotland has a population of 5.4 million. The total population of Ireland is 6.7 million. So far this century 5 male Irish golfers have won a total of 10 majors, while Scottish golfers have not won any. While I am the first to admit coincidence is not causation. the difference is striking.

DT 


Lou_Duran

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #234 on: February 03, 2020, 02:31:55 PM »
So some say golf in Scotland too expensive for the average citizen.  Others say golf is too inexpensive for the clubs to sustain themselves.  Can both be true?


If both hold, then perhaps the good folks in Scotland better pray/hope for a continued good economy in America.  I refuse to pay the £200+ fees to the big names, but very much enjoy the Boras, Golspies, and Buda venues.  Hopefully there are sufficient visitors to this level of golf to help out our less-advantaged/more frugal Scottish friends.


David,


You mean that the recent armadillo attack of biblical proportions at my home course might be a coincidence and not the result of climate change? ;)


Surely there is a Steve Shaffer in the British Isles which keeps track of course closings over there.  It would be an interesting exercise tracking additions and closings, # of rounds played, golf participation percentages, age of the populations and other demographics.  No doubt that heroes are important.  I suspect that cultural disposition (optimistic or morose) and how this is reflected in the creation and use of resources has something to do with it.


There was a humongous Nintendo truck and trailer blocking traffic on my son's streets yesterday as part of a Super Bowl party.  This hazard led to a discussion of how the great leaps in technology have made it an important part of how people spend their time and money.  I hate to think that playing and/or watching video games is supplanting physical activities such as golf, but perhaps it has something to do with it.  I know that the young people playing golf on my home course are seldom away from their phones, seldom talking, but often clicking away.

Mark Pearce

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #235 on: February 04, 2020, 03:13:26 AM »
It's difficult to knock it from their point of view but it doesn't help the traditional golf club model.


But its also the price of clubs, balls etc etc.


Against other sports, its way out of kilter.
Not sure on the equipment side.  My twins are decent cricketers.  One good enough to still harbour ambitions to play professionally.  By the time he's fully kitted out, the price isn't far short of the cost of his recently acquired set of clubs.  Memberships are less, obviously but after match fees I'm not convinced we spend less on him playing cricket than we do on his golf (he's a U25 member at Crail).  I know racket sports and sports like athletics etc may be different but golf is not alone in being expensive.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Brian_Ewen

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #236 on: February 04, 2020, 05:54:11 AM »
Mark, as Duncan says there is no need to buy expensive clubs, but I think there is huge pressure on Golfers (especially young golfers) nowadays to conform, from Manufacturers, TV, Magazines etc.


How many times have I heard, that if a Pro. is not playing it, then neither should you?


You now have drivers on the market that cost more than your annual membership!


The days that I grew up with, of cut down clubs and howking for golf balls are well and truly over.


I think the never ending cost of playing golf does make it different.


Ryan Coles

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #237 on: February 04, 2020, 06:03:18 AM »
I say this not to be provocative, and accept that Iím making a generalisation.


I donít think large swathes of Scottish Golfers are used to paying their own way for their golf and when called to, baulk at the suggestion.


When they arenít paying a subsidised rate on the back of greenfee income, or unable to rely on volunteer labour, in some parts, golfers there just donít seem to attach a market value to a round of golf or club membership.


Full membership and full service facilities can be had for £20 a week, in any part of the UK and in some places less.


Compared to the price of coffee, cinema, smoking, a few frames of snooker, hiring a five a side football court, itís great value.

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #238 on: February 04, 2020, 07:48:02 AM »
Mark, as Duncan says there is no need to buy expensive clubs, but I think there is huge pressure on Golfers (especially young golfers) nowadays to conform, from Manufacturers, TV, Magazines etc.


How many times have I heard, that if a Pro. is not playing it, then neither should you?


You now have drivers on the market that cost more than your annual membership!


The days that I grew up with, of cut down clubs and howking for golf balls are well and truly over.


I think the never ending cost of playing golf does make it different.
Times change. I went to school 15 miles away on a bus when I was 7. Our School Holidays we had no one look after us, we had the key to the house that was all...today it would be bad parenting.
I paid £15 or my £30 weeks wages to my mother when I was 16 for keep...today suggesting to a kid that at 18 they need to pay £100 a week when they work  gets met with %^&"$!. The kids today!!!!!!
But aside from that, MOST people get 10 years out of their clubs and the equipment is bought before the membership, so I don't think much of the problem with golf is in that. There a a few million sets of clubs in the UK.
Off topic a bit FISHING is having a terrible time and fishing is very very cheap. Not many young ones want to fish. TIME is the reason coupled with the interuptions of the internet, social media and phones. Same main reason inhibiting youngsters for golf.

« Last Edit: February 04, 2020, 07:50:05 AM by Adrian_Stiff »
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Niall C

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #239 on: February 04, 2020, 07:55:10 AM »
IIRC the title for this thread was derived from an article in a newspaper. The usual headline grabbing stuff that doesn't really stand up to scrutiny. Yes, golf in its present form is struggling to find it's way but it's not "sinking fast". And is Scotland any different to Ireland Wales and England ? I very much doubt it. Other sports are also struggling most notably bowling and even tennis where we've had arguably the best player we've ever had has probably had a net loss of courts over the period.


Where I think the issue is the changing custom and cultures in society as a whole. The volunteer labour that Ryan refers to not only saved money but created a sense of ownership, control and even responsibility. Membership wasn't about market value but about being a member and feeling part of a club. When was the last time anyone spoke to someone who cheerfully told them that they didn't know why they were still a member of the club as they had hardly played in the previous few years ? That was the sort of conversation I used to have quite regularly. Not now.


Money pressures have no doubt played there part but so has a growing culture of pay and play. Golf memberships are becoming more and more like gym memberships and while the accountants (and club general managers) can look to justify some of the flexible membership schemes they have introduced to boost income, a lot of what they have been doing just further undermines the value of membership, and not necessarily just in a monetary sense.


Ryan - the above isn't aimed at you and I didn't take exception to anything you said in your previous post. There was some things I didn't agree with but I think you are getting to the heart of the matter when you touch on membership and the value of membership.


Niall


 





Niall C

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #240 on: February 04, 2020, 08:00:45 AM »
As a tonic to all the doom and gloom, I was entering a golf shop over the weekend and dad was coming out with his two kids and each had a boxed set of clubs under their arms and the dad was smiling having shelled out probably in the region of a couple of hundred quid. In future years those kids may grow up and move away from the game but I bet at some point they will come back to it.


Niall

Ryan Coles

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #241 on: February 04, 2020, 08:48:16 AM »
Niall


Undoubtedly. I hate the way our governing bodies refer to Ďcustomersí.


Customers donít attend divot evenings, customers donít try and recruit new members, etc etc, Itís Members that do these things.


A balance between a professionally managed Club and Members ethos is key.


The purely amateur run Club is likely to fall foul of ever increasing red tape and compliance, and dare I say it be outcompeted through inefficiency.


Lose the ethos of a ĎClubí though and the place can be pretty soulless and a place where everyone consumes, but no one contributes.

Mark Stewart

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #242 on: February 04, 2020, 08:55:34 AM »



Compared to the price of ,coffee, cinema, Crossfit,smoking, a few frames of snooker, hiring a five a side football court, itís great value.



This viewpoint-the great value of golf in the context of other daily activities in the year 2020-is woefully underrepresented amongst the decision makers at many clubs.








Mark Pearce

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #243 on: February 04, 2020, 12:08:18 PM »
Mark, as Duncan says there is no need to buy expensive clubs, but I think there is huge pressure on Golfers (especially young golfers) nowadays to conform, from Manufacturers, TV, Magazines etc.


How many times have I heard, that if a Pro. is not playing it, then neither should you?
For his 21st we bought one of our twins a new set of clubs.  We did the right thing and got him custom fitted.  And he ended up with a reasonably expensive set of clubs.  As I mentioned above, he's a decent sportsman and competitive.  At no point in the entire process did he ask who played what, or give any indication that he cared at all which pros played which clubs.  He was fascinated by the launch monitor data, which is another story but I think we can and often do over-emphasise the power of the brand.  To be quite honest I think the membership of this board probably worries more about what Tiger or Dustbin are playing than the average 20 year old.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #244 on: February 08, 2020, 02:52:32 AM »
Jon,

to me it sounds slightly over-reaching to stipulate that all Scottish clubs that offer greenfee discounts have no clue about their running costs.



Ulrich,


I whole heartedly agree with you. The thing is what I said was
'what it shows is that many running clubs have as little grasp about the cost of running a golf course as you do'.
The fact that you can read what I wrote and come to the conclusion it means what you wrote kind of proves the point.
Many does not mean all and having 'little grasp' does not mean no clue.
The idea that what ever you get in greenfees is profit is a popular but misguided one. Golf is like any other business in that you have the cost of running the business which has to be covered somehow.
In the case of a classical UK member's club the cost of running the club which includes the course itself is covered by the members fees. This gives the club financial security whilst making the cost of membership directly connected to the cost running the club and the standard of service the club offers. In this case the club is already making a profit before greenfee revenue so to those who do not 'grasp' the costs of running a golf club this means 'greenfees are 100% profit'.
However, a club that does not need greenfee revenue does not need to reduce their greenfee price. This was always the case in the past where the only discounted rates were directly related to membership such as with member's guests.


The minimum price for a greenfee is therefore set by the membership rate usually around the 1:13 to 1:15 ratio. This means if you are asking £300 for your membership you should not go below £20 with your greenfee. By going lower you are not only cheapening the greenfee below the market value set by the membership fee but also cheapening your membership fee value. This in turn means you risk losing any price sensitive members. For a member's club, it is the membership fee payers who are the main source of income.
That in a nutshell is what needs to be understood/grasped about the basic financial model of running a member's club in the UK.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2020, 07:56:42 AM by Jon Wiggett »

Willie_Dow

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #245 on: February 08, 2020, 03:07:08 PM »
Peter Pollotta hits the nail on the head when he says "junior golf is a major ingredient in gtowth"!


Team sports today command the market for the game, whatever it is, in my opinion.  Yet golf is not a "team sport" in Scotland, to my knowledge.


Get going Scotland !


Jon Wiggett

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #246 on: February 09, 2020, 03:28:38 AM »
Peter Pollotta hits the nail on the head when he says "junior golf is a major ingredient in gtowth"!


Team sports today command the market for the game, whatever it is, in my opinion.  Yet golf is not a "team sport" in Scotland, to my knowledge.


Get going Scotland !



Willie,


it is junior golf and families. Gone are the days when each member of the family did their own thing. Now families do far more activities together and golf clubs need to realise this and offer appropriate membership.


Thomas Dai

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #247 on: February 09, 2020, 03:56:43 AM »
Not a lot of space in the busy, busy vehicle invested UK these days for kids to play casual fun sport and develop interests and skills early .... less local parks, too many vehicles for kick-about football or rugby in the road with jumpers for goalposts/try-line, no cricket with a lamppost as the wicket, a let alone playing golf on/alongside/across roads as some may once have done. Lots of screens and keyboards though. Rather sad really.
atb

Mark Pearce

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #248 on: February 09, 2020, 06:50:22 AM »
As a father of sons who have played, variously, cricket, football, rugby and (field) hockey, I'm afraid to say that team sports in the UK are struggling with participation numbers, too.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: Golf in Scotland is sinking fast
« Reply #249 on: February 09, 2020, 07:26:42 AM »
As a father of sons who have played, variously, cricket, football, rugby and (field) hockey, I'm afraid to say that team sports in the UK are struggling with participation numbers, too.
CRB checking has played a fair role in reducing youngsters participation in sport. The lovely dads that carted me and my friends around are now frightened that a 13 year old will say "you touched me".
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

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