Municipal Golf Courses - A Level Playing Field?
Recently, I read an article where several participants in the Atlantic City (NJ) golf market were interviewed about the state of the market.  Of great interest were the varying perceptions of the health of the market between those in the private sector and those operating municipally owned golf course facilities.
Each of the owners interviewed related a similar story of stiff competition for rounds and downward pressure on green fees.  Conversely, the one municipal course representative quoted in the article told a different story of a market rebounding and expressed a very positive outlook. 
Given these different perceptions, I couldn't overlook the obvious competitive advantage owned by municipally owned courses as compared to the private sector.  There are two main areas:  Real estate taxes are a big one.  In many jurisdictions, especially if the facility is not privately managed there is no real estate tax liability.  In many instances, that is a six-figure ($100,000+) advantage that allows the municipal course to either enhance conditions, add services or reduce fees and compete.  The second advantage is the availability of favorable debt financing through municipal bonds.  With interest rates far below that offered by commercial banks and secondary market lenders, another significant and usually "six-figure" advantage is in the court of the municipalities.  Reportedly, the municipal course mentioned in the article has lost at least $400,000 per year and been subsidized by the township.  It's no surprise that the private sector owners aren't pleased.
How do owners and their communities resolve this conflict?  We want to know what you think and welcome your comments. If you're a golf course owner or operate a municipally owned course and would like to share your comments, Email your comments to me.

Pull The Trigger - Course Renovations

While almost every club today is faced with the issue of course renovation, pulling the trigger on that project has never been so difficult.
It used to be simpler: the reasons for renovation piled up (irrigation system, bunker drainage, turf conditions on the greens), money was amassed or financed, and all underperforming course elements were addressed as part of a comprehensive renovation. Those days are gone. Course issues continue to pile up, naturally, but club finances and prevailing market forces now oblige clubs to peck away at these upgrades, one or two at a time – while always keeping the course open (and revenues flowing).
We’ve talked in this space before about the need for superintendents to compile and maintain long-term course maintenance plans. A major reason why: To chart and prioritize course elements in need of upgrade. In this age of selective renovation, this has never been more important.
The Practice Tee
Recent GPA assignments include:
  • NC - Appraisal of Private Club for Mortgage Financing
  • PA - Appraisal of Private Club for planning of renovations
  • PA -  Appraisal of Daily Fee course for tax assessment appeal
  • PA - Appraisal of Private Club for real estate tax assessment appeal
  • PA -  Appraisal of private club golf facility for gift tax purposes
  • VA - Appraisal of Private Club in ad-valorem tax assessment matter.
GPA is currently marketing for sale the following properties:
Click on course name for a confidentiality agreement.
We can assist both private clubs and daily fee courses in developing exit strategies, preparation for sale and effective marketing of golf properties.  We focus on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast US but have also done brokerage in FL and other states.  We've brokered over $125 million in golf properties.  Our appraisal and consulting practice has touched 45 states.  
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