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The golf industry is “struggling,” right?  Tell that to one of, if not THE fastest growing golf companies in the world, Top Golf.  Top Golf is a driving range on steroids, complete with all sorts of fun ways to hit balls and enjoy some food and frosty beverages.

Top Golf

Top Golf

Top Golf has announced plans to open a massive location here in the Salt Lake area, in the city of Midvale.  I do my grocery shopping at a store right next to the location which is about five minutes from my house.  How convenient.

I find it very telling that a successful company sees fit to INVEST in the Salt Lake golf industry while the city of Salt Lake is desperately trying to close courses which are losing money.  Can you say mismanagement?  I would presume that Top Golf does some pretty detailed research before they decide to dump millions of investment dollars into a new facility, to make sure it will be successful. I’m happy to see that the Salt Lake area is worthy of such a venture.

I do understand that Top Golf isn’t exactly real golf. You can rent clubs and you’re in a sort of a “Dave and Busters” or “Buffalo Wild Wings” atmosphere. The good ways it is not like real golf is that anyone can participate, and it doesn’t take 4-5-6 hours to play.  I hear Top Golf can be as expensive or even more than a round of golf however.

It is sad that the city has screwed up its golf division so badly.  During the years when the golf courses were making profits the city diverted those funds to its coffers and funded other money-losing amenities like tennis courts and who knows what, rather than saving the money for improvements or a rainy day.  The courses and the supporting infrastructure now need improvements while at the same time that rainy day came.  Now there’s no money, so the city’s answer is to close the courses.

That is stupid.

Not well played Salt Lake City.

What will happen to the land if they do close any courses?  The land will be turned into a park or sold.  Yeah great.  A park generates NO revenue, unlike a golf course which generates cash flow through tee times, driving range, food and beverage, leagues, and equipment/apparel sales.  A park would not produce any tax revenue or generate any kind of economic flow.  And a park would not employee the number of people a golf course does.  Think about a golf course’s staff: pro shop, food and beverage staff, maintenance.  We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars per course in employee income (taxes, spending money, and so on) which will simply go away from the city/state economy.

Maybe the courses are in the red a little bit in this down economy, but the total dollars lost between taxes, wages, tee times, range balls, food/beverage, retail sales, will have a far greater impact on the local and state economy.  Unfortunately the city mayor and council can’t think past their initial bean counts it would seem.

Golfers are also mad that somehow the “bike loving” mayor managed to find some $8 million in city funds to pay for bike paths but can’t find a fraction of that to keep the courses running and fixed up.

Say, how many dollars does the city bring in from bike revenue?  I’m guessing about zero.

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