Lately, golfers here on Florida's east coast have been opening their editions of Hometown News and finding some great announcements. If you've looked for and found the advertisements for golf courses, you've surely seen the same thing that I have. We are currently in a buyer's market.
I flipped open last week's edition to catch up on the local sports and, right there, staring me in the face was golf for practically nothing.
I know that summertime golf in Florida is usually inexpensive and the economy is still struggling along, but this borderlines on the ridiculous. Local courses are embattled in a price war trying to get you to swing your clubs on their fairways. Bad news for them great news for golfers.
One course, which just a few years ago would only let you play there if you were a member or a member's guest, had golf with cart, lunch, range balls and a cold beer all for under $30.
Not hungry? How about a two-some for less than $40? Not enough golf, you say? How about the smorgasbord special, "All you can play, all day" for the very low price of $30? More, give me more, you say? Alright, they'll even throw in lunch. That is surely insane.
Apparently our courses have grown tired of watching their carts sit empty and their fairways go divot-less. Owners and general managers have figured out the best way to catch a golfer's eye is to throw a low price in front of him or her.
If you've been spending your weekends mowing the yard, watching cars race around in circles or doing the laundry, now is your chance to grab some golf while the grabbing is good.
You are familiar with the term prices subject to change? Rest assured, this buyer's bonanza on golf will not last forever.
One friend of mine was having a fit over the low rates being tossed about as courses struggle through a sluggish economy.
"Are they trying to ruin it?" he asked me. "How can anyone make any money if they keep dropping their prices? They're giving it away."
To understand why rates are the lowest that I can remember in quite some time, let's go back to your high-school economics class. The first rule is supply and demand.
During the summer most courses have a huge supply of tee times available and not enough demand from golfers to fill them. Most of their regular golfers have returned to their northern homes and those who stay in town simply lack the numbers to fill the tee sheets. Every course wants as many of those remaining golfers to spend their golfing days with them. Fact of the matter is, most courses spend the summer just trying to keep their heads above water.
Money being tight for many people, golfers have found less expensive ways to spend their after-work and weekend hours.
Instead of sneaking out of the office and teeing it up on a Friday afternoon, they are instead putting in a few extra hours, have been catching up on chores around the house or just spending more time with their spouse.
A golf course has a fairly set expense sheet. Barring unforeseen expenses, costs are roughly the same to keep the course open whether they have 20 players a day or 200. Obviously if you have 200 you can charge less, make a smaller profit off each golfer but have so many that you still turn a profit. That's what the courses are doing these days. The number of leagues and singles playing after work are all down this year.
Those of us who live here year-round are fortunate. Just avoid looking at the air conditioning bill this month. We get to enjoy golf at its least expensive and when one course starts to struggle and lowers its rates, everyone usually follows.
Enjoy it while you can, folks. The courses need us now. Come winter, the same economic rule that helps us now, will hurt us then. So don't be too mad once the rates start to climb again. Without the winter demand we'd have few golf courses to choose from over the summer. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Unless it comes with cart, greens fee and a beer for less than $30!
The second annual golf tournament benefiting the Discovery Dream Center will be held on Oct. 13 at Gator Trace Golf & Country Club in Fort Pierce. The format is a four-person scramble that includes breakfast, lunch, gift bag and prizes. Cost is $70 for individuals and $240 for a foursome.
For more information and to sign up, contact Lela at (772) 318-9142 or email@example.com.
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday night golf show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.