Golf Leisure Spend in Michigan. Yes, please!

Part I: Michigan Golf Leisure Spend Not Big Enough

OUCH! Either I’m incorrectly interpreting the numbers in this report – or the golf community of Michigan is up against some very tough realities.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation released a report this fall showing the total in leisure spending at $12.6 billion (with a ‘B’) for 2012. Golf accounted for $247.8 million of that.

Now $247.8 million is not a number to sneeze at, for certain. However, if you look at the percentages; here’s a simple fact. Golf leisure spending accounted for 2% of total leisure spending.

Yes, that’s right 2%.

How much money for golf leisure spend?!

Golf spend is how much?!

I must’ve done that calculation a hundred times. Total Leisure Spend = $12.6 billion. Total Golf spend = $247.8 million.

You can find the actual report by clicking here. Please someone check my math, tell me I’m wrong, tell me that golf only accounted for $100,000 of spend in 2009 so this is actually a huge increase. Someone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Now, to prove I’m not a glass half empty gal, I will say that overall spending is up considerably. Quite happily Michigan is seeing great results from the Pure Michigan campaign in overall tourism numbers. D.K. Shifflet & Associates who conducted the study in the earlier part of 2011 showed that $15.1 billion in spending in 2009 has increased to $17.2 billion in 2010. That’s a great increase! Jobs have been created, certain high tourism cities and counties are actually seeing an increase in population coming back due to jobs being available. So overall, things are in a good place. If we can further this trend wouldn’t that be even better?

But folks! Get on the train with me here! Michigan boasts some of the best and more beautiful golf in the nation – THE NATION! Our state has the most courses in the nation, we have golf fees that vary from economical to really expensive. We have great lodging, we have great service, we have tremendous vistas, legendary courses with picturesque holes.

WHAT IS MISSING HERE? Am I the only one who thinks that of the $12 billion (with a ‘B’) of leisure spend coming to this great state of ours, that a measly 2% of that share is, well, pathetic?

There. I said it. Pathetic.

So, let’s go down the usual path of blame and crabbiness.

“The Pure Michigan campaign does/does not….”

“We’re not Hilton Head.”

“Michigan courses are at a disadvantage because we have harsh winters and only 4/6/9 months for open courses.”

“My course isn’t a destination type of course.”

“Michigan isn’t a golfer’s destination.”

 Done whining yet? No? Ok, I’ll wait.

“It’s hard to find good help.”

“There’s no one investing dollars into courses right now. And that’s what I need to upgrade/add/provide service to keep people here.”

“I don’t understand. We built this great course and no one seems to come? I thought our numbers would be better than this.”

“Rounds are down across the nation. There’s nothing I can do. We’ll just ride out the storm.”

 Done now?

Alright, once the whining and excuses are over, we need to come up with a plan. A plan of action. A new mode of operandi for being a golf state and bringing golfers here to play. We’ve got some great starting blocks in place, now is the time to work a little harder and start building upward. No one wants to just survive, it’s time to thrive.

Tomorrow’s blog will provide you with some planning that you need to do to be a part of the solution to get that leisure spending for golf up in percentages. Yes it will require work and thinking on your part. But if you begin to take these steps, your course or resort, your staff and your mental well-being will greatly benefit.

Dare to be great, dare to be different.

Golf marketing is changing, so should you.

Grow the game of golf in your own family.

Bring the family golfing.




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