The Garibaldi Springs Golf Resort has been losing money since it opened six years ago and investors are no longer willing to continue footing the bill.
The course was hit hard by the economic downturn of 2008, but had also failed to reach the 20,000 rounds needed each year to break even. Actual numbers were between 7,000 and 12,000 rounds each year.
Construction on the course began in 2001 and took four years with an initial investment of $7 million. The developers also built a residential community around the course and expected to benefit from other development in the area including the Executive Suites Hotel.
One news report suggests that the facility was costing its six stakeholders around $1 million a year to cover payroll and other expenses.
The troubles that forced the closure of the Garibaldi Springs Golf Resort are being felt throughout the industry, which has been in decline since the mid-1990s.
Fewer people are taking up the sport, even as a large number of baby boomers are quitting it because of cost or various health reasons. New course development has stalled across North America with the collapse of the housing market, which in the past had subsidized the construction of new courses.
Golf course economics have also changed, with the cost of water, fuel, fertilizer, electricity and other necessities increasing, while green fees are an impediment to some.
Courses in Whistler and across B.C. are working to attract new golfers to the sport by offering special theme nights, discounted rounds, free cart and equipment rentals, discounted lessons for new golfers, and other initiatives.
But British Columbia has challenges as well. In the Interior, where a low snowpack has prompted local governments to put water restrictions into place months earlier than normal, owners are concerned that they won't have enough water to properly maintain their courses. As well, the B.C. industry has expressed concerns that the new Harmonized Sales Tax and higher green fees could result in a 10 per cent decline across the industry.
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