It may have almost become cliche at this point, but let's face it ladies and gentlemen: the country's financial situation is pretty crappy, and the golf business is anything but protected.
According to a recent article by Roger Vincent of the LA Times, "the recession has dealt a mean bogey to golf. Hundreds of courses have closed in the last two years and many formerly exclusive country clubs have slashed fees or opened their greens to the public". These trends can be seen throughout the US, and Vincent continues by stating:
[P]erhaps the most dramatic examples of golf's woes can be seen in the string of
barren fairways and locked gates. Through September of this year, at least 114
of the nation's 16,000 or so golf courses had closed, according to the National
Golf Foundation, a number that was offset only partly by the opening of 44 new
From a local perspective, municipal courses in the Chicagoland area have drastically cut greens fees in hopes of driving a higher quantity of golfers to the course. Even some of the more famous courses in Chicago, including Cog Hill, have felt the impact of a struggling economy and public response. This is true even in the wake of what a few experts are calling "The Tiger Effect".
In the 1990s came Tiger Woods, who made the world pay attention to golf as he
grew to dominate the sport. The "Tiger effect," many investors assumed, would
launch a youth wave of interest in the sport. It never materialized.
"The Tiger effect has had a dramatic effect in people watching golf but seems to
have no increase in people playing golf," said real estate attorney Scott
Thompson, who specializes in golf course transactions (LA Times).
As a result, many courses are in hot water as loans and debt accumulate just to keep their doors open. Within time, however, experts anticipate that sales on luxury items and hobbies like golf and golf equipment will be on the rise once the public feels more "at ease" regarding personal finances.