Country clubs in crisis

Recession throws many clubs into turmoil, with some facing foreclosure or bankruptcy

By Kim Peterson Nov 2, 2009 11:54AM
Mortgage payment © Hemera Technologies/JupiterimagesResidential homes aren't the only ones falling victim to foreclosure. Country clubs are feeling the pain of recession as well, with many struggling to survive.

Dozens of country clubs are in foreclosure, reports BusinessWeek. And up to 15% of the remaining ones report serious financial problems.

So far, the elite clubs that cater to the ultra-rich are generally staying afloat. It's the mid- to lower- level clubs that can't make payments.

And the sport of golfing is seeing a similar hit. About 2.1 million golfers belong to clubs, a drop of 900,000 from the early 1990s, BusinessWeek reports.

Experts tell the magazine that between 400 and 1,000 country clubs may have to close or open to public play.

"The whole country club model is at risk," said one.

There are a number of reasons for the slide at clubs, starting with the down economy. It's also harder now to deduct club dues on your taxes. And some companies may feel pressure not to award employees with pricey country club memberships.

And finally, is business wheeling-and-dealing done much on the golf course anymore? That seems a little bit old school.

Some clubs are trying to lure members back with discounted enrollment fees and other perks. Still other clubs are trying to reach out to the entire family, with features like pilates and karate lessons, BusinessWeek reports.

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