Too Many Course Too Few Players

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
PALM CITY, Fla. (AP) -- Golf is a big business, but one that
David Osiecki says might just be too big in Martin County.
The manager of Cobblestone Golf Club in western Palm City says
there aren't enough players to go around.
A boom during the 1990s to build newer and lusher links has left
about 45 golf courses in Martin County competing for the same group
of players.
'Without a question, Martin County has more golf courses on a
12-month basis than they need,' said Osiecki, whose semi-private
course has seen a steady decline in the number of rounds of golf
being played there each year.
'It's ludicrous in terms of how few players there are and how
many courses there are. You are going to see some golf courses that
are going to close.'
And Cobblestone isn't alone. The Martin County Golf and Country
Club is also feeling the heat.
Between 1996 and 2003, the number of rounds played each year at
the county-owned course has dropped from about 114,265 to 96,274.
Membership at the course is also down.
Both courses are asking the county for help. Cobblestone's
Osiecki wants to see a five-year building moratorium on courses in
the county. Robert Sokel, president of the Martin County course, is
asking the county commission to waive about $100,000 in player fees
it collects from the links each year. That waiver would last five
years. Alan Hodges, a professor the University of Florida's
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, says the downturn is
part of a statewide trend that many industry officials blame on a
sluggish economy.
'There is an oversupply of golf courses,' he said. 'Golf
courses have been hit pretty hard.'
A study on the economic impact of the sport by Hodges and
Professor John Haydu shows that about 25 percent of all courses in
the state have been built during the last 10 years.
Based on figures from the year 2000, the study says that about
1,334 courses in the state earn about $4.4 billion in revenue.
Palm Beach County is by far the state's biggest player. It not
only has the most courses, it had the highest golf revenue about
$633 million each year, the study said.
St. Lucie County ranks among the top five golf destinations in
the country. The county's 19 courses reaped about $34 million in
revenue in 2000, according to the study.
But while players in Martin are scant, courses in Palm Beach and
St. Lucie counties say they've noticed little decline in the number
of people playing their greens.
Industry officials admit that low rates at Martin courses and
St. Lucie's PGA Golf Club, which is run by PGA of America, attract
players from Palm Beach County.
'It's great golf up there,' Paul Makris, general manager of
Emerald Dunes Golf Course in suburban West Palm Beach. 'You can't
find better golf for less money. The players will travel up
there.'
Osiecki says that's because Martin courses are constantly
offering specials and slashing rates to appeal to more players. He
points to the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie as a facility that
makes it difficult for other courses to be successful.
'The PGA is a 900-pound gorilla,' Osiecki said. 'They can
dictate prices. They charge so little.'
To compete, Cobblestone tries to create a socially friendly
atmosphere, and encourages repeat players by offering special
deals.
Meanwhile, Osiecki continues to try to persuade the county to
temporarily halt golf course construction, a move that hasn't been
warmly received by some county commissioners.
While Commissioner Sarah Heard says she'd like to prevent
courses from being built on land zoned for agricultural purposes,
she's not as eager to stop their construction altogether.
Neither is Commissioner Lee Weberman.
'That's where the free market works,' he said. 'How many
McDonald's are too many in a small town?' But given the
player-to-course ratio in Martin County, Weberman said he doesn't
think it's a good idea for the county to buy another course. Last
year the commission considered buying the Champions Club Golf
Course at Summerfield as a public course.
Instead, he says the county should work on fixing up its
existing greens.
He favors waiving the $1.20 per round fee the course pays the
county. The county had considered using that money about $1.5
million to buy a second course.
Sokel wants to use the money to buy new equipment and repair
buildings.
'We are just using chewing gum to keep it together,' he joked.
But kidding aside, he said if the waiver isn't approved, the course
would have to consider increasing greens fees and cart fees.
That could make it hard for them to compete with other courses
in the area.
'We are probably better off than most,' Sokel said. 'We're
not destitute, but we have to do something.'
 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.