Sandhills golf clubs feel economic pressure
Posted April 3, 2015
Golf is a backbone industry in the Sandhills, but it's hitting rough times. Some of the 24 public golf clubs in Moore County have filed for bankruptcy in recent years.
Woodlake Country Club, in Vass, is in foreclosure. It was auctioned off two weeks ago. The owners didn't want to talk about it until the deal is finalized.
Duffers like Josh Greene, who has dreams of one day qualifying for the U.S. Open, have seen how economic pressures limit choices.
"Golf courses in this area have pretty much priced the lower-income people from playing," Greene said.
"With this area, there are just so many golf courses competing for business," he continued. "It's just a really hard area."
Seven Lakes Country Club was sold in January and is under new management. Jay Islow is the new general manager and part owner. He says when money is tight, playing golf isn't a priority.
Islow is giving Seven Lakes a facelift with fresh paint, a new dining room and pro shop, and new golf carts.
He says the golf industry as a whole is reevaluating its marketing, with the understanding that expensive memberships, monthly dues and just overall high prices are driving golfers away.
"What we're doing here at Seven Lakes is creating opportunities, membership opportunities, loyalty clubs and pricing strategies that are based on accessibility, that will be inviting to all the consumers," Islow said.
That kind of talk is music to Greene's ears. He thinks that local residents, not tourists, are the key to golf course sustainability and growth.
"I see an opportunity for it to come back," he said. "So as long as you can bring that market back into playing, especially the locals that live around here. That could help go a long way."