Other Stuff: Spoiled Golfer –
By Wayne Halm –
I’m a little worried this morning. I see a golf trend that is … well, disturbing.
I live on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. I know Kauai is a special golfing environment and my concerns may not be universal – yet I am concerned.
A few years ago an exclusive and expensive private golf club opened on Kauai ( http://kukuiula.com/ ). They built a wonderful golf course and an opulent clubhouse, then began selling upscale home-sites. In my view this was all fine.
I’ve played the course three times in conjunction with writing articles. Once my editor accompanied me, but in three rounds I have not seen another golfer on the course. While odd, that is understandable. The real purpose of the golf course is to create and sell prime real estate, not to generate green fees.
The private club is a fine business model and it has built a lot of golf courses. However, here I see it also doing something else.
Last year The Prince Golf Course closed and announced plans to re-open as a private club. And I see indications that another is positioning to follow the same route.
Somehow I find this uncomfortable. It makes me realize that I am a spoiled golfer. I’ve been able to play these courses even though they weren’t profitable – now that is being taken away and I miss it. But I can’t blame the owners, I’ve run businesses and know the importance of revenue.
While a business is about more than dollars – it is not long about anything without them.
The conversion to private club is made possible by undeveloped land adjacent to the courses. This wild land is one of the things that make the courses attractive to me. It saddens me to envision houses lining the courses. But business is business – and I must admit, I really am a spoiled golfer.
What do you think? Am I spoiled? Is this sort of thing happening in your area? Leave me a comment below … then
Come play golf with me.
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Spoiled or blessed? I can see you are grateful for the public courses and they may be a dying breed where you live, but courses are struggling around here. Lots of competition. I agree that houses lining a course take away some of the beauty of playing golf….guess that is just business as you say.
Thank you, I like “blessed” much more than “spoiled”.
I believe golf courses, with their huge fixed costs, are all going to need creative revenue strategies to survive. Remember the Manele course requiring a resort stay to play? I will try to follow that one.
And the houses — I’m afraid that I’m not good enough to worry about the beauty, I just don’t want to hit one.
A Hui Hou,
I’ve been playing golf in Kauai for almost 30 years. With 18 less holes at Kauai Lagoons, the Woods nine not being maintained to championship standards, and now the Prince going private (although I’ve heard that may not happen), Kauai is truly declining as a golf destination. Very sad. I can’t imagine what other course might go private. Hope to tee it up with you sometime on my beloved island!
Ahh, a man that shares my passion – gotta love it. I keep telling people about our island, and just have faith that it has an affect.
Golf here is changing, but it is changing elsewhere too. Did you see my post about the Manele course on Lanai ( https://kauaigolf.me/2016/01/20/the-manele-golf-course-on-lanai/ )? Particularly the last paragraph. What do you think of the stay to play idea?
I’d love to tee it up with you sometime. Contact me at WayneHalm@Yahoo.com and let’s work something out.
A Hui Hou,
Agree with you. I have 2 friends who visited that development, looked at Real Estate there, expressed interest in playing there and even they were turned down because they had not committed to a purchase.
Golf courses are expensive to run and maintain. In California, due to water costs and economic issues many private clubs are trying to attract the ‘public’ to play alongside ‘members to make ends meet.
Aloha, my friend.
Yes, “exclusive” is a big part of what Kukuiula is selling – and they are serious about maintaining it.
During my recent balloon flight over California I noticed how brown the courses looked. It just drove home the point that golf is a changing business.
I assume that you and Georgia survived Antarctica. Where are you now?
A Hui Hou,
I would say that it is an unfortunate side effect of the business. The fact that new business is happening is good. The golf course business is undergoing a market correction due to the over-building of courses. I think in the future many mid-tier privates will allow some public play to increase revenue.
I suspect that you are entirely correct. Interesting times lie ahead. Few things inspire innovation like read ink.
A Hui Hou,
It’s unfortunate that such a big tourist destination has to resort to this to drive their business. I don’t like too many houses on golf courses, but like you I understand that it’s just dollars and cents for them. If they want to develop along a course, why not be a semi-private club? Include memberships for people who buy houses, and provide some special member benefits, while maintaining some tourist revenue as well. You could block off certain times for member only play and allow public to book tee times to fill the voids.
Hopefully we can make it out to Kauai before this catches on too much!
Great ideas buddy! There could be a future for you in the course management companies.
Work on getting back out here – I will find us places to play.
A Hui Hou,
As far as Manele, Lanai is basically a private island now so I don’t really have a problem with stay to play. Maybe an exception for Kama’ainas. Have to keep in mind that the economy is booming (even if it might be a head fake). When it turns, so will the views on golf economics. Few of us remember paying pennies on the dollar post Iniki, dot com crash and Lehman Bros…..
Good points! I am interested in how golf courses respond to changes in the economy too. I fear they are going to need to get better.
A Hui Hou,