Any talking head who suggests that thegolf industry is in recession is out of touch,like one of the moonbats who think BernieSanders is a credible candidate for President. Next time you hear the complaint, consider the source, because they probably aren’t getting their fair share of the golf industry’s enormous $70 billion economy in the United States.
Thirty years ago you could buy a home just outside Boston for under $100K, today it takes $100K upfront to pay
for a family golf membership at one of suburban Boston’s swanky clubs, such as Belmont County Club, which hosted the PGA Senior Tour’s Constellation Championship in June. Golf clubs such as Charles River, Winchester, The Country Club, Weston, Woodland and Brae Burn all command big money for first year-members ranging from $50K to $75K. Private golf course memberships in the Bay State is thriving like never before, with all clubs reporting waiting lists, some, like Winchester, taking up to 20 years to get in, and, where the average home price is $1.5 million.
Earlier this year, The Massachusetts Golf Association, which boasts about 90,000 members from 400 facilities, proclaimed March 20 as Massachusetts Golf Day celebrating the fact that the golf economy impact here is about $2.7 billion annually. The Mass Golf Scorecard reads like this: over 25,000 jobs providing $796 million in wages; $74 million given back through golf-related non-profit organizations; $366 million in golf tourism; 70 percent of golf facilities open to the public every day and 90 percent of golf course acreage is green space.
“The golf industry in 2015 recognizes its challenges,” World Golf Foundation CEO Steve Mona told Forbes magazine in a recent interview. “In the U.S., the game is enjoyed by 25 million Americans who play 455 million rounds annually at the nation’s 15,350 facilities. It is a nearly $70 billion industry, supporting two million jobs and $55.6 billion in annual wage income.”
If the golf industry has a problem in New England the controversy is centered on money and how much disposable income does the avid golfer wish to spend on his favorite past time? To join or not to join a private club seems to be a popular question. With green fees at higher-end public facilities such as Pine Hills, Granite Links, Farm Neck and Mohegan Sun fetching over $100 per round, it gets expensive to play per diem golf. Also, the sport is having a hard time connecting with millennials (ages 18-34).
Inquiries to several private clubs reveal there are no bargains and waiting lists are normal. According to Robby Thompson, Membership/ Marketing Director at Thorny Lea GC (Brockton) applications are available for a variety of membership opportunities depending on your age, income and availability to play. The new member initiation fee is $10,000 with annual dues set at $4,500 plus $1,000 bond and another $100 monthly minimum. Compared to Charles River CC (Newton) that’s a bargain because it will require $75,000 upfront before you join, and you need references. Cummaquid CC (Yarmouth) requires $25,000 initiation fee and $3,500 annual dues with a wait list. Norfolk GC (Westwood), which is a private nine-hole course, asks for $5,000 initiation fee, $1,000 bond and $3,000 annual dues. Surprisingly, they have 35 candidates on the wait list, expected to take three years to get in.
So “Are There Too Many Private Golf Courses in New England?” Never. What a silly question.
Tom Gorman has been writing about golf for 24 years and occasionally knows what he’s writing about.