What Can Neighborhood Golf Course Owners Do?

Creating special tax districts is one golf course saving strategy, but controversial.

As country clubs try to save par, this Gretna, Louisiana, club might get a mulligan from taxpayers.

'The train crashes'

One resident’s comments… "Usually when things are railroaded, the train crashes," countered Gail Heine, an opponent who also lives in the subdivision. "Why should the whole neighborhood pay for a few that enjoy the golf course and the country club?"

Read the whole story here and find out how this golf course community dealt with this.

Homes with golf course views are beautiful… until their golf course fails.

Homes with golf course views are beautiful… until their golf course fails.


Neighborhood Golf Course Owners

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF THE BUSINESS IS STRUGGLING?

NOTE: Our work is to help neighborhood golf course owners and residents keep cool heads and work together to come up with the best solution. I don’t take sides. We’d rather there not be sides, rather, parties with a common interest coming together to solve the issues mutually. We do my best to eliminate blame on any side - particularly in 2018, as the state of the golf course industry is really more than a local issue. Mike Kahn, Cameron White, and Bill

AS THE OWNER OF A FAILING NEIGHBORHOOD GOLF COURSE, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

One thing you should not do as a failing neighborhood golf course is blame your neighbors. If you do, instead of a cooperative relationship with them, you’ll wind up fighting and paying attorneys. As a result, you can bet the golf course will completely fail and you, the golf course owner, will lose everything you put into it.

IF YOU’VE BEEN THERE MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS THE ORIGINAL NEIGHBORHOOD MAY HAVE CHANGED

Statistics have shown that the average number of years people live in the same residence before 2008 was six to seven years. By 2016 homeowner tenure grew to nine years. Follow the link to an article about homeowner tenure in the USA: https://themortgagereports.com/26307/homebuyer-tenure-how-long-are-people-staying-in-their-houses.

“In 2016, the tenure of homeowners increased to ten years. One more than the year before, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2016 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers.”

“The NAR report shows that people stayed in their homes only six to seven years before the housing downturn began. After 2008, this increased to nine years.“

Therefore, after seven years (if the golf course was built in the 90s, or early 2000s), your neighborhood may have completely changed. Although the original home buyers may have bought there because they played golf, it’s likely subsequent buyers are not golfers. In fact, in the 90s, it was estimated that one in four golf course neighborhood home buyers would be golf players. In 1997, if it was a 1,000-home golf course centered development, at 2 1/2 persons per residence, there could have been 625 golfers in the neighborhood. If they became members of the club, if it was a private club, it would have been oversubscribed and had a waiting list.

By 2018, the number of golfers in the (your) golf course neighborhood could have dropped to the national average. Apparently, in 2017-2018 there are an estimated 23.8 million Americans playing golf out of a total population of 327,413,703 (as of Saturday, October 13, 2018), or 7.3% of the total population. If only 7.3% of the 2,500 residents in the 1,000-unit golf development were golfers, it means now only 183 residents may be golf course customers.

The excerpt below came from a National Golf Foundation Report date May 15, 2018. Read the entire report at this link: http://wearegolf.org/blog/2018/05/the-national-golf-foundation-issues-2018-golf-industry-report/

“Golf’s participation base remains stable, with an estimated 23.8 million people who played golf on a course in 2017 -- the same as a year earlier.”

In failed golf course residential developments like Walden Lake in Plant City, Florida, over ten years a complete neighborhood turnover from a high percentage of golfers to closer to a 7.3% participation rate would have decimated the golf course. That would have been the case at Walden.

In 1995, the 27-hole Walden Lake Country Club was a thriving club with a busy clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness room, and large banquet facilities. It’s 2018 and the Walden Lake golf course and its facilities within a 2,200 unit subdivision is sadly closed and rotting away.

I foresaw the Walden Lake breakdown after trying to have a conversation with any of the resident’s HOA board members. It was obvious then (around 2000) that the homeowners were at loggerheads with the golf course ownership. As you’ll see further down, the relationship between the golf course and the neighbors at Walden Lake was similar to what I also found when I was interim GM at the Eagles Golf Club in Odessa, Florida.

In Alachua, Florida, the Turkey Creek Country Club has been going through hell after its owner blasted the homeowners for not sufficiently supporting the golf course and he closed it down in 2010. Although, the golf course community could have resurrected the golf course, they were lead by a ‘kitchen-full-of-cooks’ and it became a worse debacle. There is hope (if sanity rules) that the golf course will reopen before the end of 2018. I guess we’ll see.

The key to the golf course owner is not to blame the homeowners for the current plight of the golf course. Although, I blame the golf course owners somewhat for falling asleep at the wheel, the owner needs to adopt a strategy to realign the golf course with the neighborhood. I know, because I learned how to do it:

MY DIRECT EXPERIENCES WITH GOLF COURSE NEIGHBORHOODS

As interim general manager of the Eagles Golf Club, in Odessa, Florida, just outside Tampa, I immediately recognized the poor relationship between golf course management and the 1,100 residents in the Eagles neighborhood. I went to work to repair the neighborhood relationship and to this day, 2018, the Eagles Golf Club is a healthy and thriving 36-hole golf course (currently under great ownership).

As supervisor of the once prestigious Indigo Lakes Golf Club in Daytona, Florida, now closed and growing in, I recognized a strained relationship between the club’s management and the homeowners. Along with my excellent and experienced management team were were on the right track bringing Indigo back to its original esteem when the owner suddenly changed course. Unfortunately, I had to quit early in 2014 because the owner would not follow our plan. By 2016, Indigo had become a shambles and finally closed in 2018.

As General Manager of the once great Ravines Golf Resort in the Jacksonville, Florida market, management and the HOA were at war when I arrived (in 2002). In a few months I had the homeowners and the golf club on the same page. Meanwhile, we had improved business so well that we took advantage of its progress and sold the club.

The subsequent Ravines owners came in 2004 and immediately declared war on the residents. By 2005 the Ravines Golf Resort, once rated inthe top ten of Florida’s 1,100 golf courses, closed its doors for good.

The above examples are illustrations showing why the relationship between the homeowners and the neighborhood golf course must be congenial and cooperative. If you remember who the stakeholders are (https://michael-kahn-fb73.squarespace.com/config/pages/5ba66668652deafcd6f25d56) you’ll realize the importance of building a strong and trusting relation with everyone. Mike

IN A GOLF COURSE RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD IT’S A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP - WHETHER THE NEIGHBOR PLAYS GOLF OR NOT

When a neighborhood is created that includes a golf course as a centerpiece the fortunes of the golf course are the fortunes of the neighborhood. Even when the development was on the drawing board it was known that the majority of the residents would not be golfers (based on general statistics). However, the golf course was to be manicured open space and a positive neighborhood attribute. In fact, next to lakefront and mountain views, a golf course has been the most desirable and valuable place to own a residence. However, as experienced thousands of times since year 2000, the negative effect of a failed neighborhood golf course is a complete about face - even if the residence isn’t backing on a fairway because the community integrity itself suffers.

The symbiotic relationship (Symbiotic definition, living in symbiosis, or having an interdependent relationship) between the golf course and the neighbors - golfers or not - depends on the continued prosper of the golf course. In turn, the golf course needs at least some support from the neighbors to remain as a healthy business.

However, the golf course is also a business like any other business. It needs proper management. In too many cases, management fell asleep at the wheel by not reacting and adjusting to market changes. As indicated in reports by the National Golf Foundation, Pellucid, and other data sources, participation in golf has slumped to only 7.3% of the population from over 10% back in the 1990s. Although, it may be too late for many neighborhood golf courses to recover, some can resuscitate themselves by aggressively welcoming ordinary people to learn and enjoy playing golf.