I stopped in on the annual Toronto Star Golf and Travel Show on the weekend. If the number and size of booths is any indication, the economy has certainly taken a bite of the industry. Of the participants that actually returned this year (it seemed like 25% fewer booths were set up than in past years), most had much smaller booths.
I spoke to many of the Ontario courses to find out what promotions they have planned to entice play in 2009 and though no one had plans to raise rates, I was stunned to hear that most were going to take a wait and see attitude to new promotions and marketing. I would have thought that the writing was already on the wall and having an aggressive plan in place now would make the most sense to cope with the economy.
I spoke to one golf course representative (who will remain nameless) who actually said that the current state of the economy is a blessing in disguise. “The unemployed guy is going to have a lot of time on his hands,” he said without a hint of a joke. “What’s he going to do with his day except golf.” He was dead serious even after I suggested that the unemployed guy’s wife will kill him when he comes home from his round of golf. Okay, perhaps the upside is that golf courses will have more marshalls on hand to keep play moving. Just means those marshalls will be taking up tee times with their free rounds of golf.