Is golf really struggling as some would have us think? Based on my observations on a recent trip to the PGA Show in Orlando, I think not. The floor of the convention center was packed. Exhibitors were busy taking orders from buyers anticipating the coming season up north, while the fair-weather locations were touting their resorts and courses. I think like all businesses, golf has a niche, and well-run golf enterprises are doing great. Those that have poor management are struggling, just like all businesses that are not organized properly. The formula is not complicated. Have a friendly and courteous staff and a well-maintained golf course that is challenging, but not penal, at a reasonable price. While in Orlando, I had a chance to play a local municipal course called Dubsdread, built in 1924 – not overly long, but plenty of room for errant shots that allowed a chance to recover. We also played in under four hours, all for $32. The place was packed. They also had a great restaurant that many of the locals frequent. My next stop was Palm Beach, where they have a local par-3 course that was in bad shape a few years back. The city decided to upgrade, and they had Ray Floyd renovate the course and make it user friendly. They keep it in great shape; the holes are challenging, not long. You can play with three or four clubs and go around in two hours for about $30. This course also had a fabulous restaurant overlooking the course and Atlantic Ocean. The place was packed. Down the road, we played the West Palm Beach Golf Club for $40, another older municipal with plenty of room off the tee. No one in our group lost a ball. Guess what? The place was packed. So when people tell me that golf is struggling, I say, no, badly run and poorly designed golf operations are struggling. Has the economy had an effect? Sure, but smart business people have always been able to deal with the ups and downs of that. Golf is no different. Good business people will thrive as they always do. By Mike Stevens USGTF Certified Golf Teaching Professional Tampa, Florida
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