June 2024 Industry Report

Last year, according to the National Golf Foundation, approximately 12.2 million U.S. adults took a golf trip, close to the all-time recorded high and 20% higher than the annual average over the past 30 years.

Revenue versus Expense

As economists debate if the economy is geared for a “soft landing,” it is clear the tailwind for golf is set to diminish. During a meeting with Eric Dutt, director of operations at Reflection Bay at Lake Las Vegas, he gave me some “words of wisdom” that I thought you might find relevant. “When evaluating compensation, staff fall into one of two categories: those that produce revenue and those that are a necessary expense.”

Orchard Growers

During a recent trip to New Mexico, I had the good fortune to spend time with Jesse Thrope at The Club at Turtleback Mountain. His resume includes being bestowed a Club Management Association of America (CMAA) Fellow – an honor less than one percent of CMAA members receive. During our lunch, I thought his quote would be useful for your next management meeting when describing your member mission statement: “Unlike farmers who seek an immediate return on crops, our team is orchard growers working to build a lasting legacy for generations.”

Core Golfers

The approximately 13 million “core golfers” across the country: represent almost 50% of rounds played and account for over 90% of money spent.

Inflation in Golf

On the private club side, communities have had a more difficult time controlling inflation. In my informal survey to 50 private clubs – dues have averaged an increase of 28% over the past four years – or about 7.1% per year. Since demand has remained robust, private communities have been able to reinvest in member amenities from golf course renovations to clubhouse enhancements, slightly easing the bite, and helping justify “why I have to spend more each month.”