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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Perspective - Eric Dutt


Happy Fall to Nevada Golfers

Column by Eric Dutt, President of the Nevada Golf Course Owners Association and Vice President of Caesars Entertainment, Rio Secco, Cascata and Butch Harmon School of Golf

Once again my thanks to Las Vegas Golf & Leisure Magazine and Ryan and Heidi Chackel for allowing the Nevada Golf Course Owners Association space to comment on the Nevada Golf industry and the golf industry in general.

In my first article I addressed some of the challenges facing the golf industry in Nevada as well as on a national landscape. Issues such as water supply in the Southwest, the decline of new golfers coming into the game, existing golfers playing fewer rounds or ceasing to play, the potential of new taxes that would impact the golf industry, and the decrease in “free time” and disposable income have all been factors affecting golf courses and the industry in the last five years, if not the last decade.

While Las Vegas is a potentially a very unique golf market due to the city’s allure as an entertainment mecca and its some 40 million annual visitors, Las Vegas is not a golf destination in the pure sense of the word. In my opinion Las Vegas is not similar to, say, Bandon Dunes, Myrtle Beach, Bend, Oregon, and some of the newer emerging golf destinations where the sole attraction is largely to play golf with your buddies for three to four days. What Las Vegas offers in the form of golf is some 60-odd golf courses, both private, resort and public, which offer a variety of price points and layouts to test different skill sets. Las Vegas golf resorts attract business meetings and vacationers. The other attractions in Las Vegas such as entertainment, dining options, shopping and day and night clubs all compete with golf offerings but can also be an attractive allure to visiting golfers.

When you look at the state as a whole there are about 120 courses in the entire state of Nevada with the largest concentrations in the Northern and Southern ends of the state.

From an economic impact standpoint it is estimated that the Nevada golf industry now employs about 5,000 people in the state, and tourists and related parties spend an estimated $1.1 billion annually on golf (Zimmer 2004). In 2004 the Nevada golf industry contributed over $300 million in local wages, salaries and operational expenses. In 2002 the economic output of the Southern Nevada Golf industry stood at $776,472,276.

Keep in mind that about 800,000 to 900,000 rounds of visitor golf is played annually in Southern Nevada alone and that these visitors are also generating many room nights in Las Vegas resorts which generates room tax revenue which goes back into marketing the destination as well as creating associated revenues from these golfing visitors. 

For those of you who support your favorite charity by playing in one of the many charity golf tournaments in the city (or state) you know how important the game of golf is and how much it can generate for charitable causes. According to the National Golf Foundation the amount of charitable giving attributed to the game of golf in the U.S. increased from $3.2 billion in 2000 to $3.9 billion in 2011. Las Vegas and Northern Nevada courses conduct many charity golf events each year for very worthwhile causes.

 And let’s not forget that both Northern and Southern Nevada operate very active junior golf programs, among them the First Tee of Southern Nevada, The Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association and the Northern Nevada Junior Golf Association. I was fortunate to be involved in the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association in the early to mid 1970s, an association at that time made up largely of volunteers with the support of local golf professionals who allowed access to area golf courses for tournaments and instruction clinics. The city has grown in leaps and bounds since those days and efforts are under way by numerous golf-related associations to improve the number of quality players as well as increase the number of young people simply playing the game, who would be our future golfers. 


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