Driving up golf revenues during economic down-swing - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Driving up golf revenues during economic down-swing

Jeff Garma Jeff Garma

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WINDWARD OAHU (KHNL) - Golf courses across the state may not be as crowded, as people try to spend less during these difficult times.

Golf experts say Hawaii has some of the most beautiful courses in the world. Now, the golf industry and its partners, such as the tourism industry, are coming up with ways to drive business to our state, despite the down economy.

Jeff Garma has been teeing it up for 14 years. Lately, he's noticed some golf courses aren't as crowded as they used to be.

"I used to play a little bit more," he said. "However, you gotta kind of watch the budget now. Everybody is watching it. Everybody is spending less."

According to a new report, Hawaii's golf industry last year generated $2.5 billion when you factor in visitor arrivals, retail sales, construction and other related industries.

But now, the nation is in an economic down-swing.

"It is a concern, obviously," Ed Kageyama, Kaanapali Golf Course, said. "The play is down. Revenues are down. But our costs keep going up."

Golf and tourism officials are chipping in ideas, hoping to grow the game locally. They also want to continue making our islands an attractive place for professional events and big-name sponsors.

"With everything that's happening in the auto industry, in the banking industry, obviously, sponsorship is going to be more difficult," Jim Remy, PGA of America president, said. "Nascar is being affected by it. Everyone's being affected by it."

But those in the industry remain confident, saying many golfers find comfort at the links during rough times.

"I've been in the recreation business for over 30 years and we've seen downturns before," Remy said. "And people continue to recreate during the downturns."

Some people believe it's just too expensive to play a round of golf. The industry says it wants to get the message out that affordable and accessible golf does exist.

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