Sunday, March 21, 2010

Market Your Course Designer- Score Golf, Rick Young

Score Golf Market Your Course Designer by Rick Young

The Blog Post link above is an interesting article by Rick Young, which I have a different opinion on. Rick quotes Terry McAndrew's Web Street Golf Daily Pulse. Golf Daily Pulse cites marketing data from The Golf Research Group's research suggesting that Top 10 golf designer's projects are more successful than other designers based upon golf course valuation.  

Those of you that have been following this blog understand that I tend to do my own thinking. Below is my response to Rick Young's article.

Thanks for bringing up an extremely interesting topic. If this was 2006, it would be tough to disagree with McAndrew and the research from Golf Research Group other than to point out the great success of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, which broke all of the rules about top architects or at least prolific ones.

Your article refers to research that many golf course and golf residential community developers have based their decisions upon for the last two decades.  It seemed simple, hire a high profile architect and expect increased sales, absorption rates, and home/lot prices. Expense increases for golf architect design fees, course construction costs, and course maintenance costs were factored into premiums charged for lots, memberships and dues or green fees. For the 10-15 years prior to 2008, it worked when the projects had sound fundamentals.

Mr. McAndrew might want to ask Golf Research Group or some other accredited golf/residential researcher for a more current study, say 2007 through 2010. It seems doubtful that having a high profile architect has kept projects and developments from foreclosure and bankruptcy during this time frame. Especially when high profile architects' projects typically require larger capital and operating budgets.  As for the increase in home values in these communities, it would be once again prudent to look at 2007 through 2010, when residential home values in some communities with high profile architects crashed, with homes and lots selling, if they sell at all, for 25-30% of their peak value.

Going forward, look for a paradigm shift in the golf course development business. Developers of golf courses and golf communities will be evaluating golf business models for profitability and sustainability and looking for architects that understand the golf business as well as design. Developers and course operators will continue to market in conventional ways as well as through the new mediums. Marketing that includes the golf course architect can be a significant benefit but the name alone cannot sustain momentum and insure success, the golf course has to be interesting, immensely playable, memorable, aesthetically appealing, and fun.

Golf's old beliefs and ways have to adapt to changing conditions. Big name architects will have to provide more than just improved marketing value. They will need to provide great golf courses that cost less to build and maintain, and those big design fees...they are now negotiable.

Armen Suny

Suny Zokol Golf Design, LTD

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