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Let Them Play Golf

It is often argued (usually by golfers) that we must not curtail water use by the five golf courses in Borrego Springs, California because of the presumed adverse economic impact such actions would have on our community. But consider the following excerpts from the article cited below. It appears as if this argument is wholly without merit and amounts to no more than flogging a dead horse.

Digger - February 1, 2005

"Not easy being greens"

The Auld Course in Chula Vista is owned by California Bank Trust, a lender that foreclosed on the project more than a year ago. The bank is in escrow with a buyer, as it has been on two previous occasions, to sell the course at a loss. But selling The Auld - even at a fraction of the estimated $14 million to $16 million construction cost - has proved elusive.

The saga of The Auld highlights how the golf industry - from club makers to course owners - is buried in a sand trap. Through October, the number of golf rounds played nationwide is down about 4 percent - putting 2004 on pace to become the fifth consecutive year of declining play, according to statistics from Golf Datatech, an industry research firm.

Course building peaked in 2000 with 398 new 18-hole facilities opening that year. Last year, just 156 new courses opened.

Nobody is building golf courses from scratch in the country, period, unless they're associated with a housing community, said Jeff Woolson, a senior vice president with CB Richard Ellis, which specializes in golf course sales nationwide. Three-quarters of the new courses are part of housing communities, and the rest are just additions to existing courses.

California Bank Trust lent $6.2 million toward construction, said Gary Owens, senior vice president of the bank. Owens acknowledged that The Auld has not been a good investment. We're going to lose money on the transaction, he said. It's a tough market for golf courses.

By Mike Freeman, San Diego Union Tribune, 01/29/2005

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