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As part of an appraisal assignment, last week I had the opportunity to play at a private club in the upper Midwest US sporting fescue fairways.  The course is (deservedly) ranked on at least one “Top 100” list and despite the less than emerald green color of the fairways I found playing conditions to be superb despite a maintenance budget less than half of that often spent at similar clubs.  Combined with our penchant for expensive trips to Scotland to play on browned out golf courses and the general economic distress of so many golf courses, I wondered about the impact on economics and value of alternative turfgrass varieties for the majority of golf courses.
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In the worlds of golf property appraisal and brokerage our actions typically center on one fundamental question: Who’s the buyer?

The golf course industry consists of numerous market segments as outlined:

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Last week, I made my 4th visit to Scotland for another great golf adventure with three of my favorite golf partners.  Since I am lucky to be a member at Royal Dornoch Golf Club, we focused our trip on the Scottish Highlands with 3 days at Dornoch, 1 at Golspie and 1 each at Mar Hall, Royal Troon and Machrihanish.

Links golf is different in from the parkland style courses we mostly play in the US with firm (usually brown) turf and focus on the “ground game”, playing “bump and run” shots and using the natural contours to move the ball where you want.  This is cool, but I’m always fascinated by the culture of golf in Scotland.  One very upscale club in Scotland we learned about costs no more than the equivalent of $2,500 per year to belong, even for regular, local members.  It’s typical for clubs to be most welcoming to outside, public play and not at all unusual to see dogs walking the course with their masters and trolleys of both the push and battery powered varieties all over the golf course.  Clubhouses are rarely ornate and only at a very few will gentlemen wear jackets.  In Scotland, golf is an “every man’s” game and the pretense often experienced at the best American clubs is nowhere to be found.  A round of 18 holes rarely takes as much as 4 hours.

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