The 2005 Golf Industry Outlook Survey, conducted by the Golf & Resort Industry Team of Foley & Lardner LLP, reveals that despite a positive growth forecast in course development, industry leaders are concerned about the declining number of golfers and rounds played as well as a lack of player retention. The findings were released earlier this week at the firm’s Golf Industry Executive Forum at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Three of the most revealing findings show that 95 percent of industry leaders are concerned about the declining number of golfers. When asked to rank the top issues most likely to impact their business in 2005, 71 percent of respondents cited the declining number of rounds, while 68 percent indicated player retention.
“Our survey clearly indicates the golf industry is undergoing a transition period as it grapples with various growth and business issues,” said Van Tengberg, co-chair of Foley & Lardner’s Golf & Resort Industry Team. “While the survey findings were in line with what we have been seeing in the industry as a whole, they also revealed a number of opportunities for maximizing profits, player development and retention.”
The Golf Industry Outlook Survey found 77 percent of respondents selected water management as the predominant environmental issue impacting the industry, explaining why courses are increasingly turning to water conservation technologies. As a result of the ongoing battle for water resources, more than half of respondents have been forced to make sizable investments in their irrigation systems, install drought-resistant grass and/or investigate reclaimed water options.
The survey indicates that although the majority of industry leaders who responded are concerned about the declining number of golfers, they foresee a 13 percent increase in the development of golf courses during the next five- year period. Respondents are also optimistic that course development will continue to expand at an even higher rate over the next ten-year period.
Course owners are also turning to marketing activities that will help retain their existing players and attract new golfers. They are increasing their advertising and promotional budgets, creating player development and customer loyalty programs, enhancing the customer service experience and lowering fees. Additionally, more than 70 percent of respondents indicated they are planning to target women, and 33 percent are directing their efforts at minorities in 2005.
Additional survey findings are available at http://www.foley.com/golf .