Golf courses hit revenue fairways and rough patches

British Columbia’s biggest public golf courses rebound from 2017 low

B.C.’s busiest public golf courses have experienced ups and downs over the past five years.

The average number of rounds played at the province’s top 10 golf courses grew 9.1% since 2014. However, the growth masks the industry’s volatility throughout the five-year period.

After increasing slightly in 2015, the number of rounds played at B.C.’s busiest golf courses dropped an average of 10% over the following two-year period. By 2017, B.C. golf courses had hit a four-year low, averaging only 50,289 rounds in 2017 compared with an average of 56,656 in 2015.

The decline, however, was short-lived. In 2018, the number of rounds jumped 16%, according to data collected for Business in Vancouver’s Busiest Public Golf Courses in B.C. list.

Over that same year, the median number of rounds played, which has typically been lower than the average rounds played, increased by 19.6% over the year and surpassed average growth. This suggests that courses lower on the list grew more than courses higher on the list.

While the average number of rounds played dropped by 4.9% in 2017, the average estimated revenue of the top 10 declined at less than half the rate at 2.2%. The median estimated revenue grew 0.9% in 2017 while the median rounds played fell 5.5%.

Estimated revenue for the five golf courses with five years of data available did not show the same recovery from their 2017 low as the average of all courses on the BIV list.

Despite the overall rebound, not every course enjoyed a revenue increase. For instance, the number of rounds played at No. 8-ranked McCleery Golf Course rose by 4.7% to 52,048 in 2018 from 49,694 in 2014 – but its estimated revenue fell 13.1% to $2 million in 2018 from $2.3 million in 2014.

Fraserview Golf Course (No. 6) experienced an even greater discrepancy between the number of rounds played in 2018, which was up 8.9%, and revenue, which fell by 10.5%.

 Over the five-year period covered by BIV’s list, Fraserview’s rounds played rose by 2.5% while revenue fell 15.7%.

Golf chart 2

Not all public courses showed this gap. No. 2-ranked Riverway Golf Course & Driving Range reported higher growth in revenue than in the number of rounds played. Over the five-year period, the number of rounds played at Riverway rose by 12.2% to 63,985 in 2018, up from 57,018 in 2014. Revenue growth was 19.3%, an increase of more than $550,000 to $3.4 million in 2018 from $2.85 million in 2014.

Of the companies with five years of data available, McCleery had the highest one-year growth in rounds played (30.1%), followed by Fraserview (8.9%). Riverway had the highest five-year increase in rounds played (12.22%) while No. 7-ranked Northview Golf & Country Club had 13.6% fewer rounds played in 2018 compared with 2014. •