Chris BaldwinThis Week at August 1, 2006

High greens fees caused by
pointlessly huge clubhouses?

Golf writers who show up at a new course are almost instantly hit with stats about the clubhouse. Someone’s going to hand you a sheet - likely a fancy glossy sheet - revealing how many square feet it is (as if golfers were making their playing choice based on Home Depot info). Someone’s going to tell you that the building look came about through the combined influence of an ancient Mayan prince’s burial ground and an Irish peasant’s half-tilted potato cottage.

And that’s for a clubhouse in Ohio.

If the course is in someplace even remotely exotic, the clubhouse is likely to have been touched by the hand of god herself. Or at least by the hand of a raging drunk Mel Gibson.

Seriously, many golf course clubhouses these days come with more interesting back stories than Justin Timberlake. At one course, I was handed a book - a full hardcover book - on the architecture of the clubhouse.

Reno GM Jim Kepler - as straight a shooter as you’ll find in the golf business - put it this way, "There’s no question about it, golf courses are built to sell homes these days. Clubhouses are built to sell homes."

And to raise your greens fees. If you think it’s coincidence that golf’s become more expensive as clubhouses have grown more expansive, Floyd Landis has some urine sample results he’d like you to take a third look at. Think the little old ladies camped out in the dinning room, deep in their third hour of sipping on their first cup of tea, are paying for those plush seats and sparkly chandeliers?

The golfers who plop down the $200 greens fees are, one round where they barely visit the gleaming clubhouse at a time. Really, do you have a single golfing friend who factors the clubhouse into his course selection? If you do, it’s probably the same one who’d be caught in Sergio Garcia’s yellow ensemble at the British Open.

Truth is most golfers would be happy with a hot dog stand, or a fish taco cart.

Keep the building simple and the golf costs down.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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