LAKEWOOD RANCH — For the last nine years, Jake Kammerer has played the Legacy Golf Course in Lakewood Ranch twice a week.
But even from the greenway, the founder of the Legacy Men’s Golf Association has seen the impact of the economic slowdown.
In his golf league, for example, membership has stayed consistent at about 110 to 120 members. But he estimated 25% of those individuals now play once a week instead of twice.
“I’ve seen a drop-off in participation over the summer in the golf league and before and after our league (plays),” Kammerer said. “I think that’s generally reflective of the economic situation.”
And he’s not the only one who has seen a decline in numbers.
Citing a decrease in the number of rounds and their associated fees, the owner of Legacy, Troon Golf, has agreed to turn the course over to its lender, Textron Financial, to avoid foreclosure. The Arizona-based company owes about $7 million in outstanding debt for the 18-hole public course, said Hud Hinton, president and chief operating officer for Troon.
“Like a lot of businesses in the current economy, this is a business that could not service its existing debt,” Hinton said. “In studying the market right now, we did not see a prospect for a short term recovery.”
Hinton said Troon tried to negotiate with the lender for the four or five months to make a change in the structure of the debt for the property but was unsucessful.
“The property is collateral for their loan,” he said.
Hinton said the handover, which will occur in about two weeks, is a friendly transfer. The club’s 45 employees are expected to stay, although Textron likely will bring in a new management company for the course and may eventually sell it.
“That’s why we want a seamless transition so there’s not a closure of the course,” Hinton said.
General Manager Matt Hurley confirmed golfing numbers are down, citing that fewer members of the public have been playing the course. Public rounds are off by 8.5%, while member rounds are down 2.5% from 2008. Hurley said under the course’s current debt load, the Legacy course needs to generate about 35,000 public rounds and about 7,000 member rounds annually at its current prices.
SMR spokesperson Leah Blair said the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club’s private courses saw record numbers of tee times and rounds played by members last year, and the club is doing well.
“Because of our strong membership base, we don’t see some of the problems the daily fee and public courses see,” she said.
For a related story about The Concession's new owners, click here.
BY THE NUMBERS
115 — Annual golf members at Legacy
26,000 — Rounds played from Jan. 1 to July 31, 2009
28,000 — Rounds played from Jan.1 to July 31, 2008
39,000 — Estimated rounds for 2009
42,000 — Rounds played in 2008
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