Golf Course ClosedA recent USA Today article notes that golf clubs are suffering from the economic slowdown with the number of golfers nationally falling 3% from 2007 to 2008, while the number of “core golfers” (players with more than eight rounds per year) dropped 4.5%, so far this year, the number of rounds played nationally has dropped 3% which shows that golf is still experiencing a contraction. The article touches on a number of possible reasons for the decline, but I found the most insightful part to be a quote from Chad Ritterbusch, executive director of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, “Golf has to think out of the box, it has to adapt to the times.”

On the other side of the coin, the outdoor industry is booming. This can be readily seen with the recent Outdoor Retailer show in Utah drawing huge crowds of both exhibitors and attendees. According to a Salt Lake Tribune article, the Outdoor Industry Association is “…seeing six percent growth across all sectors” with some businesses seeing double digit growth! Particularly when superimposed upon the US’s economic troubles, these are indeed impressive numbers.

What do these two opposite tales mean for winter resorts and snow sliding sports? I think it’s an optimistic message with a tint of caution. From golf, we can see that we should be careful of resting on our laurels and ensure that we continue to invest in the new and different like terrain parks and snowboarding. From the outdoor industry I think we can see that people are still willing to spend and to spend on the higher end of the spectrum if they feel that they’re getting something of value – so don’t feel compelled to discount to generate volume.

Are there any other industries that you think winter resorts should be taking some lessons from? Tell us in the comments below!

Photo credit: Flickr user MarkWallace