Lift, Clean, and Place
What is the future of country clubs in WNY? That is a question many members at various clubs ask themselves daily. I don’t know the answer, but I hear the rumors like everybody else. Rumors, what rumors? The usual ones you hear every year; this club is being sold, that one is going to close, over there they have real financial trouble, etc, etc. People love rumors and they love to spread them.
I won’t be doing any of that here. At Tee 2 Green we’re in the business of helping clubs get members and events. We enjoy working with the great people that manage and work at many of the clubs in the area. I consider many of them friends, which makes the talk bothersome and in some cases laughable. However, I do think about the future of clubs because it is part of my business. If clubs are full, do they need to market with us? If clubs can’t gain enough new members and events, will they close? If a club is sold, what will new ownership and management mean? Is golf on the decline? Will it recover? Questions that require a crystal ball to answer.
Here is what I do know. Golf seems healthy. I’ve been to the PGA Merchandise show and it’s huge and magnificent. I announce golf on PGA Tour Radio and more and more people tell me they listen when they can’t watch on TV. I see more and more media covering PGA Tour events. The PGA of America is getting kids excited about golf through programs like Drive, Chip, and Putt and PGA Jr. League. There are more programs to introduce people to the game of golf through clinics and programs for business people such as the Bad Golf Business School. These are all good things to the grow the game. My summations and anecdotal experiences are backed up by the 2019 golf report from the National Golf Foundation which can be found here.
Does that mean a sale or closures of local clubs won’t happen? Of course not. We could see both in the next few years. There have been two closures in recent years, Westwood CC and South Shore Golf Course for development purposes. Oddly, neither property has yet to be developed and sit as overgrown eyesores. South Shore was a public course, so the impact on private clubs was non-existent, but several Westwood members flocked to new homes boosting neighboring clubs. Another closure would certainly boost other clubs with members, but nobody is rooting for that. I have to believe clubs root for each other to be vibrant and profitable. It would be a display of strength in the industry in WNY.
But is it strong? Are there enough members and potential members with the income and time to keep clubs healthy? I want the answer to be yes. Clubs are progressing to make membership more attractive, provide more options, more experiences, and benefits to attract the next generation of members, while serving the older population that, in many cases, provide the foundation for golf clubs. Perhaps the resurgence in Buffalo and younger people staying or moving here to work can keep the current clubs going and perhaps make some healthier. Only time will tell. Until then, take every rumor you here for what it is, a rumor.
I asked all of you to root for my buddy Will and me in the OPCC Yates Invitational. Either you didn’t or it didn’t work! We played well, but not great and finished last in our flight. Matter of fact, I played right to my handicap, while Will played just a shade better. So, we played pretty well, but not well enough. You need to have a great week to have a chance to win. No matter, we had a great time playing and dining with old friends and making new ones. That is the best part of the tournament, the camaraderie. I already can’t wait until next year.
-I would have loved to have been in the pub with Shane Lowry after his victory at The Open. The videos were tremendous as a he celebrated with his fellow countrymen. Lowry is a funny guy, someone I’ve always enjoyed chatting with during and after a round while working on Tour.
-Brooks Koepka has to be the Player of the Year once again. To win the PGA and finish 2nd in the Masters and U.S. Open, and T4 at The Open is tremendous. Tiger would be runner up on my ballot.
-I toiled with the modified claw grip for a week and half (thanks to 21 putts during the first 9 hole match of the Yates) and liked the results, but decided to go back to the standard putting grip. I have putted well the past few rounds, but now know that I can change it up with confidence if need be. I also thought about left hand low or going with the longer putter and securing it to my forearm like Matt Kuchar or Web Simpson.
-I’m about to embark on 5 straight days without playing golf. I think I’d do better without having food for five days.