Brandon and Westman Golf in Trouble

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Gord Paziuk summed up golf to me today “when Nike is getting out of golf there is a reason”. Right now Nike said they are down 8% in sales therefore no longer going to be in the golf industry.

We reached out to some of the local golf pro’s and course owners to see where the current state and future of golf is going.

Dave Scinocca, who would be one of the most recognizable names in golf in Brandon and Westman, had a simple message about the state of golf and that is to get more kids involved. But Dave did have good points in saying that current golfers are not playing as much as they used to….. New golfers have dropped off to some degree…… plus we have several good courses all within 45 minutes of Brandon that compete hard for the golfing dollar.

The lifeline of the local golf course are the corporate events or big tournaments like Dreams for Kids or Birt Cup. He said without them we would have to raise course prices so high.

Chris “CK” Kading, pictured below, from Deer Ridge Golf Course has another theory that other local operators agree with. The City of Brandon has made the price for the City run Rec Centre at such a low price that it has a huge effect on local golf course operators. Kading feels very strongly that the City of Brandon should not be in the golf business. In addition he feels that the course is in terrible condition. When BDNMB asked the Mayor Rick Chrest for his thoughts on the low prices he stated that Council felt that $16.00 was all it was worth at the time. Additionally Kading feels the City prices are “predatory pricing which would be illegal for private business and at worst unethical for the City of Brandon.”

Chris Kading Deer Ridge Gold Course Brandon MB

Jason Earl owner of Glen Lea Golf Course has some great feedback. There is a huge problem in the industry right now and that's no secret. Our rounds and memberships at Glen Lea are down a fair bit compared to an average year over the last 15 years. We are turning to other ways to try and generate revenue for the golf course. This includes things like: selling clay. We are also looking at, and in the process, of doing market research for other demands (outside of golf) in the Westman area that might help us bring revenue in for Glen Lea. We are very fortunate to own the majority of the surrounding land around the golf course. This will allow us to grow (if the golf industry ever becomes healthy again in Westman) or try different business avenues to help bring in more revenue to help the golf course survive. Other areas that we need to expand to help grow golf, include: more school programs for the kids, junior leagues / programs, lessons, approaching businesses to both sponsor golf programs and have them promote more golf outings for their employees, corporate memberships, promote family nights, etc.

It's unfortunate that the Westman golf rates do not reflect the costs of doing business, resulting in the golf course industry in our area not being healthy. Every year our cost of doing business increases a large amount and our golf season is always the same length. On average (average of last 10 years), we are open 188 days a year. 52% of the year we are open. Factor in days that we're closed for bad weather (Rain days, too hot, too cold, etc.), plus the month and half at the start of the season and month and a half at the end of the season were we charge discounted rates for Spring/Fall,,,, and that's a small window to bring in revenue.

Scott Kozoroski from Brandon Source for Sports said they are basically seeing a decline in golf sales over the past 5 years. Golf is a low margin product (which I didn’t know ) so therefore to tie up money in inventory and floor space perhaps both are better spent on more profitable sports. On a good note Scott said they have seen a big increase at the Tamarack Golf Tournament in the age groups. 4 – 10 year olds (Cubs).

Lets face it golf is and will always be an expensive and time consuming sport. But if you travel and play golf in Calgary, or Vancouver, you will see Brandon and Westman prices are at times one quarter less expensive than other cities in Western Canada. Golf is maybe for the first time in decades facing some huge challenges and with some help and luck and cooperation perhaps it can turn a corner.