Will the grass get greener? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Will the grass get greener?

Matthew Renda
golf balls
Getty Images/Hemera | Hemera

LAKE TAHOE – While statistics indicate golf rounds and revenue are down nationally, Lake Tahoe/ Truckee region golf courses are feeling the pinch of less demand pitted against increased supply, industry officials said.

“The challenge, both locally and nationally, for golf course operators is that there are fewer golfers and more golf courses,” said Incline Village General Improvement District General Manager Bill Horn, who oversees the Championship and Mountain golf courses in Incline. “Since 1999, there have been 18 or 19 new golf courses built in the area. Since 2005, nine new course have been introduced.”

Lane Lewis, owner and operator of Old Brockway Golf Course in Kings Beach, also sees the increase in regional supply as detrimental to his bottom line.

“There are eight golf courses in Truckee,” he said. “The National Golf Foundation said a population of 25,000 people can support a single 18-hole golf course.”

While recognizing the Truckee/Tahoe region is a resort destination with a steady influx of tourists during summer months, Lewis believes there are not enough golfers for all the courses.

Bryan Davis, marketing manager for Edgewood-Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, said, “These are trying times for the industry.”

Specific to the Tahoe Basin, Davis agreed with his colleagues in saying a robust increase in supply is one of the main factors contributing to a decrease in rounds throughout the basin.

Ed McGargill, general manager of Truckee-based Coyote Moon Golf Course, said while the abundance of golf courses throughout Truckee means greater competition, solid business practices and controlling expenses means the courses can co-exist.

Mountain biking, kayaking, sailing and hiking all constitute legitimate options for summer visitors into the region, and new recreational choices, such as stand-up paddle boarding, are constantly cropping up, increasing the recreational menu in the basin.

This all contributes to a decline in golf rounds, Lewis said.

This all contributes to a decline in golf rounds, Lewis said.

“I have been through a number of recessions as owner of this course,” Lewis said. “What’s different now is that people have a lot of choices when it comes to entertainment.”

While many regional golf operators bemoan the current state of the recreational opportunity in the Lake Tahoe Basin, all four said the ability to offer golfers a unique experience replete with scenic views of the surrounding mountains and spectacular Lake Tahoe means the future outlook for their respective businesses is not all gloomy.

“If you want to play an 18-hole course with views of Lake Tahoe, you have two options – the Championship Golf Course (in Incline Village) and Edgewood,” Horn said. “If you want to simply play in the Sierra, there are plenty of places to go, but we still offer a unique experience at our course.”

Davis agreed.

“We’re lucky,” he said. “This is a special spot. It’s a one-of-a-kind course and location.”

McGargill said his Truckee course, despite not being next to the lake, offers visitors a unique mountain golfing experience.

“When you get someone from the city, they truly enjoy the mountain landscape,” he said. “We offer the mountain golf experience with the beauty of the Sierra and the local wildlife.”

Plus, a golf ball travels an average of an extra 10 percent in the high altitude, he said.

Lewis said his nine-hole course offers vacationers a chance to get in a quick round while afforded views of the lake on every hole.

“I see the business rebounding, soon,” he said. “Given the historical elements of the course (it hosted the Bing Crosby International Classic in 1934 and 1935), and the fact that is a great course that can be played in under two hours, I think people will continue to want to play here.”

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