Putting the Cart Before the Course
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
We sure got a lot of mail from people who were fine with walking Tiger's course after I wrote yesterday that a no-cart course was a stupid business decision. I guess you guys didn't. More than 80 percent of you said that you liked it.
Well, sorry to disappoint, but apparently the plans has "reversed course."
Although in the press conference, Woods said that the walk-only was key to getting the deal done, loyal reader Doug Albers called our attention to the re-write of the Associated Press story.
"Woods and The Cliffs' owner Jim Anthony said they wanted High Carolina to be a walking-only course during the news conference. Afterward, Woods clarified they'll 'strongly encourage' golfers to walk, but won't require it."
Although most of you agreed with the walk-only decision, this would not have been a good move. First of all, it's a private course. You have to be part of the Cliffs Communities to play it. Some people told me that that makes the decision to have no carts easier since it wouldn't be up to the public to decide if they liked it or not. But it's actually harder. Because communities like this are filled with older golfers who pay for the privilege to play the courses. There would be a small revolt if they stuck to this.
Here are some of your thoughts:
I live in Florida, obviously a huge market for golf, and much of the change in the walking stats that you note is due to the courses and not the players. A decade ago, there were easily a half dozen public courses in this area that you could walk. Now there is one. Most of the new courses that have been built have been constructed in conjunction with residential developments. The focus is: build the houses and then squeeze the course in-between. It results in courses that have massive gaps between holes and makes many of them un-walkable.
The other issue driving down the walking stats is an economic one. Most of the courses around here that you could walk won't let you or they only let you walk late in the afternoon. Typically the greens fee for walking is far less than the fee with a cart. When demand is high, the courses force you to take a cart in order to increase their revenue.
I think Tiger has eliminated a large portion of the customer base by not allowing carts to be used. Seniors who play golf are too often plagued with bad knees, feet, or other problems which will not allow them to walk the four or five miles required for 18 holes. I doubt this rule will last past one season.
Having been to Dubai and walked from one end of the Creek to the other and back I can tell you that it is doubtful many people are going to be pulling or carrying their clubs at the new Tiger course. Even in the best of weather when Tiger has played in Dubai, rivals Palm Springs in the heat.
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