NAPLES — I was driving down Immokalee Road last week headed west, and as I looked to my right I noticed a massive land clearing going on. It was easy to see that a huge undertaking with many pieces of heavy equipment flying around the landscape was under way.
In the days that followed, I asked a few friends in area real estate what was up and they confirmed that there was another housing development on the way. That in itself surprised me, considering what has gone on in this country in the last 48 months.
Better yet though, I learned that this community was going to include a golf course. I clearly don’t understand, In fact, I must be extremely stupid. I just thought in a county with more than 75 golf courses that we were golf-saturated!
I have watched many area professionals either lose their jobs or their jobs have been downgraded due to the economy, as well as the saturation. Saturation causes area clubs to reduce fees which at first glance sounded good to prospective members, but with reduced fees often comes reduced services, and often a change in course conditions.
With so many clubs in the area and the American golf population either static or on the decline, depending on which study you read, why would we want add another club to the landscape?
As a PGA member I’m extremely concerned for my fellow PGA members, local superintendents, the club staffs we employ, and of course the member who lays out precious funds to join, along with annual dues.
How unhealthy is area golf? Where is golf in our immediate area headed? Where is the game and this huge national business model headed?
Also of concern to me in this immediate area is public-access golf, including the quality of it, and the costs to our grassroots public player.
This golfer perhaps can’t afford to join a private facility in our area, but is part of our golf family, and deserves area facilities that allow he or she a quality, fairly priced product to golf their ball.
All interesting and complicated issues. All real and here now. I don’t claim to have the answers. Brighter minds than mine need figure out these issues.
One of the things that has always puzzled me is why we don’t have high quality county or state golf facilities here in Southwest Florida? Long Island has Bethpage State Park (five courses and a U.S. Open site), Torrey Pines in San Diego has 36 holes (again a U.S. Open site), Alabama built their own golf trail (several wonderful courses throughout the state). I could go on and on ...
Think about how many folks in Southwest Florida do not belong to a club that live here. Think about how many folks visit us here annually. Think about how many area hotels do not have a golf package? Could we support, deserve, and need a 36- or 54-hole public facility or a practice facility?
I would love to hear — and I’m sure I will — all your thoughts and perspectives on any and all of my babble above. Happy golfing. Shhh, the Masters is coming.
Tom Patri gives lessons at the Quarry on Immokalee Road, and is at Friar’s Head in New York from May-December. Patri is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Visit Patri’s website at www.tompatri.com, www.facebook.com/TomPatri or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.