There certainly has been clear recognition of the need to see the club world through a much broader viewfinder, even as golf remains a core activity for many properties.
The December 2015 issue marks the completion of the 11th calendar year (or “volume,” in publishing terms) of Club & Resort Business’ existence. And one thing that hasn’t changed from day one is that I still have family and friends who refer to C&RB, no matter how hard or frequently I’ve tried to enlighten them about all of the areas that our coverage entails, as “your golf magazine.”
Within the industry that we serve, however, there certainly has been clear recognition since 2005 of the need to see our world through a much broader viewfinder, even as golf remains a core activity for many properties. Just in this past year alone, covers of C&RB have included images of parties on clubhouse lawns, kids and dogs in swimming pools, and volleyball players—all to illustrate feature stories about new directions taken by clubs that are historically tied to golf. This month, our cover story is on how Spanish Trail Country Club, built around a 27-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. championship course, has come back from the brink of bankruptcy—and once again, the cover image shows how the club’s turnaround and future, even in golf-centric Las Vegas, hinges as much now on emphasizing its social appeal as one of its core recreational activities.
This issue also contains the final installment of the “Growing the Game” series that we have presented this year. In that article (“Event-Full Occasions,” pg. 48), Contributing Editor Jim Dunlap presents a host of compelling examples of how properties of all types are now finding inventive ways to change perceptions about how they should be defined. In all cases, the formula behind the very successful golf events that Jim’s article describes involves as much, if not more, emphasis on socializing, food and beverage, and fun as it does on the game itself.
The need for all properties to adopt this wider perspective was also noted in a recent article, “Non-Golf Events Can Help Golf Courses,” by Larry Bohannan, the respected golf writer of The Desert Sun newspaper in another traditional golf hotbed, Palm Springs, Calif. On a recent weekend, Bohannan wrote, different events were held at a resort course and at a municipal course in the Palm Springs area that showed new ways “not only to produce revenue, but also to bring people and expose them to the [club] and the game of golf itself.”
In the case of the municipal course, the grounds were used for a barbecuing competition that drew over 6,000 people. “What was interesting was seeing one group of four younger people, perhaps about 20 years or so, looking over at the 18-hole, par-3 course as they were slowly walking to the exit,” Bohannan wrote. “Is this where their friend tells them that he comes to play this game, this golf? It looks nice, one of the women said. She might have to ask her friend what this is all about.
“As much as we like to think golf courses are about golf, they really are about making money,” Bohannan concluded. “And it’s OK to look outside rounds of golf for that revenue. It’s likely the United States Golf Association doesn’t consider barbecue competitions as a way to grow the game— but perhaps it is a start, and a way for [more] people to have a bit more understanding of the game, and its venues.”