An increase in golf course renovations and a focus on course design and usage stressing the fun and playability of the game may be highlights of golf for 2012.
Those are some of the views of the American Society of Golf Course Architects’ (ASGCA) Executive Committee.
President Rick Phelps, Vice President Bob Cupp, Treasurer Rick Robbins, Secretary Lee Schmidt and Immediate Past President Erik Larsen shared their thoughts on a number of topics concerning golf inNorth Americaand around the world.
The complete views of the ASGCA Executive Committee members are included in the winter 2011 issue of By Design (http://asgca.org/about-by-design).
Recent talk about improving access to golf includes a focus on smaller courses, ‘bunny slopes’ and the United States Golf Association/Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tee It Forward campaign. What’s your view?
Erik Larsen, ASGCA: Architects are in the service business—serving players and course owners, serving the land and environment—but we are also in the entertainment business. ASGCA members are on the leading edge of acknowledging a new type of golf course, playing it and marketing it.
Bob Cupp, ASGCA: Tee It Forward, or something like it, has the potential to change the face of golf in theUnited States. It shines a light on designing from the green back to the tee instead of from the tee forward.
Rick Robbins, ASGCA: There are members at my club – in that 50-70 years age range – moving to the white tees to play faster and a bit better.
Rick Phelps, ASGCA: The PGA plans to follow up with research and actual data for the success of Tee It Forward. The support of the PGA will promote the multiple tees ASGCA members have been designing for years.
How do you view the business prospects for 2012?
Lee Schmidt, ASGCA: There are new deals being made stateside, but they are in the early stages. Internationally, there is some development inIndia.Viet Nam is inching along, andThailand is another country where you see a project here and there.
RR:South America is an up and coming market.
EL: The economic slowdown gave some course owners a chance to balance their books and now have some cash on hand. They can move forward on infrastructure and renovation pieces which had been put on hold.
LS: Interest rates have never been lower. Management firms which bought up properties have a great opportunity to work with an ASGCA member to make improvements and attract new players or bring back members they may have lost.
RP: There are more Master Planning projects coming out. Course owners are optimistic things will be good down the road and want to be ready with something new to bring people back.
China is a key market for the global golf industry. What’s the latest news coming out of the country?
RR: People are embracing playing the game, not just designing new courses to enhance real estate values. The government is changing over with the Chinese New Year (Jan. 23, 2012). The current administration does not want to make new rules concerning farmland and water use. It could be six-to-eight months or longer before a new administration’s rules are in place.
LS: Once that happens,China can be a great market for years. If the rules are halfway workable, it can help everyone in the sport and benefit the environment.