Write a small paragraph (8 lines max) with a summary of the article and answer the following questions:
What is causing the leftward shift in demand for golf?
How do expectations cause demand shifts?
Why is China experiencing a golf boom?
Behold the golf course. Graced with rolling fairways, pristine greens, ancient oaks and other natural fanfare, it presents a striking picture.
But as beautiful as a golf course may be, its looks belie the trouble besetting the industry that created it.
According to the National Golf Foundation, the number of new courses expected to open in the United States in 2008 is the smallest in 20 years. More courses are scheduled to close this year (nearly 100) than the 80 expected to open, though the closures have fallen since almost 150 were shut down two years ago. The golf construction boom of the 1990s – when about 2,500 new courses (mostly daily fee ones) were added to the 13,000 or so already extant in the U.S. – is not only over; it’s stuck in reverse.
The problems of the broad economy are bedeviling golf course construction. The housing market’s collapse has hampered development, since a number of golf projects these days are tied into on-site housing. Getting financing to build a new course is tougher than it has been in decades. Projects that were started this year have seen the bulldozers turned off until better times appear.
Consider Rick Jacobson, a golf course architect in Libertyville, Ill. For nearly two decades, the founder of Jacobson Golf Course Design designed and renovated courses in Chicago suburbs, such as Bloomingdale and Winnetka, as well as nationally. But in the last few years, Jacobson – who has worked with Jack Nicklaus on a number of projects – has focused on a new market: China.
Last month, Jacobson agreed to design a 27-hole course in Hong Kong. It’s his third venture in China, following the 36-hole Lion’s Lake Resort course near Guangzhou and Chaozhou, an 18-hole resort course.
”In the foreseeable future we won’t see growth like the 1990s in the U.S. again,” said Jacobson, who also agreed to design a course in the Italian province of Calabria this year. “Some of the projects were ill-conceived. Some courses were just a temporary fad until they could flip it to a developer.”
When it comes to those sports whose purpose is to attract public participation, it’s hard to match golf for the scope and expanse of what needs to be created. Bowling? Buy a couple of acres of land and construct 10 lanes with a bar nearby. Tennis? Two hard courts take up as much space as a suburban backyard; upkeep is minimal.
But building a golf course in the United States is a process that takes years. Finding 200 acres of suitable land near a reasonable population center is just the start. Attracting money and securing permits is another time-consuming venture.
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