Rich man's sport, impacted by crisis?

The golf community in Romania attracted nearly 500 members, which makes the business with golf courses and clubs a niche startup with an atypical evolution. Thus, even if 2008 was a prosperous year for market players, the financial crisis sent golf into a hole, driving managers to resort to promotional offers or even price discounts for various service ranges.

“Golf, a hobby backed by adjacent activities and services”

In 2008, the number of members at the golf club “Green Lake” (Lac de Verde) in Breaza remained steady, at the same level as in 2007. The 155 persons benefiting of the member statute are equally Romanians and foreigners.

Meanwhile, Emil Manoiu, director at the Bucharest Diplomatic Club says the number of members grew steadily throughout the year 2008, but remained at a level too low to be considered a successful business. Nevertheless, the financial crisis’ effects started to spread into the golf industry since December, when the market hit stagnation.

“In Romania, playing golf is an accidental activity, the number of players is low and the sport is perceived as a hobby supported by adjacent activities and services”, Manoiu added.

Marian Coroiu, secretary at Tite Golf Resort in Timisoara said the effects of the crisis were not reflected in the service demand of the club, or the number of members signed up. However, the situation would be easier to ‘chew over’ in spring, as the club is closed in the winter time.

“2008 was a good year when the structure was organized and a new development plan was implemented”, Cioroiu added.

“The golf is profitable only through real estate developments”

Even if there is no dramatic slump in demand, the market players say that given the current economic climate, it is not the best time for starting a startup in the field.

“Anywhere in the world, the golf is profitable only through real estate developments nearby courses. As the real estate industry was the financial crisis’ first casualty, the golf is not the biggest investment target right now,” said Marian Cioroiu.

“In this field, as in any other industries, there was always crisis in Romania. We have cut prices in this period and we offer special packages, but what makes the business go bust is not financial crisis, but the unfavorable season for practicing this sport”, said Ramona Vintila, marketing manager at Green Lake.

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