The recovery of the golf economy, like the recovery of the economy in general, is happening in fits and starts, and accelerating in some places more than others. One area where golf seems to be bouncing back better than most is Dallas-Fort Worth.
A recent story in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram highlighted how several golf facilities are starting to step on the gas for the first time in several seasons.
At Timarron Country Club – on Byron Nelson Parkway in the upscale Fort Worth suburb of Southlake – recent renovations costing seven figures added a media room, outdoor dining and a complete upgrade of food and beverage operations, the story said. And along with clubhouse renovations, the nearby Trophy Club improved its chipping/wedge practice area, expanded its putting area and renovated its driving range with a target fairway and greens.
Both those facilities are owned by the Dallas-based ClubCorp, which last year spent $65 million on renovations to its various properties, according to ClubCorp President and CEO Eric Affeldt. He also said the company would spend just as much this year as well, with some of the cash going to remodel the clubhouse at Arlington's Shady Valley Golf Club.
"The improvements will allow these clubs, already established in their communities, to stay relevant and offer even more value to their members," Affeldt told the Star-Telegram. "What we're trying to do is appeal to a broader customer ... what we can do for the entire family."
Some facilities are being transformed not by huge corporations but by individuals. Among them are Woodhaven Country Club in Fort Worth and Diamond Oaks Country Club in Haltom City, both of which were purchased by members concerned that the clubs might fail.
"You could see the downward trend," Dallas businessman George Sanders told the newspaper. "I felt the club was just going to go away. I didn't do this to get wealthy."
Within a month of buying Diamond Oaks, Sanders brought on Lee Trevino as a partner. He’s spent about $1.6 million for renovations, including new bunkers and new carts, and spruced up the clubhouse to make it a popular local destination. Now, he says, the club's wedding reception business is thriving, and the club is focused on marketing itself toward younger and value-minded golfers.
Another facility cited in the story is Rolling Hills Country Club in Arlington, that city's first private country club, which is undergoing its first major restoration in its 60 years of operation. The facelift includes rebuilding the golf course, including bunkers and water features, and planting new grass.
"This has been a long time in the making and to see the wheels in motion makes this a very exciting time," PGA Head Professional Vince Pellman of Rolling Hills told the paper. "The golf course upgrade will not only bring our course into the 21st century but create a more fun and player-friendly course for members and their guests."