Thursday, August 21, 2008

My New Golf Course Supplier: eBay

Last week I was having some serious electrical problems with a front-deck mower. So much in fact, I quickly realized I needed the technical manual, which I didn’t have. I picked up the phone and called my local distributor and asked how much the manual was going to run me. “That manual is $139.50,” I heard from the other end. “Alright, I’ll let you know,” I responded half-heartedly. After mentally cursing the manufacturer, another idea popped in my head: I should check eBay.

Over the years, I have probably spent thousands of dollars on useless crap that I should have never bought on everyone's favorite auction site. Admitting I had a problem was the first step. So I said to myself, “Let’s see what the eBay community has to offer in the way of front deck mower technical manuals.” My search terms yielded a result of 63 items. After looking closer at the results, I found the technical manual I needed. The auction was ending in 13 hours and no one had bid on it yet. In short, I bid and won the manual…for $10.00 plus $12.50 shipping (This manual is really heavy).

I spent $22.50 for the same thing that the manufacturer wanted $139.50 for.

I started looking around eBay and have found other supplies I need for my course that include irrigation parts, tri-plex parts, rotary blades, and the list goes on and on. For anyone looking to save some cash and stretch your budget, check out eBay and see what they have. Just stay away from the useless crap … if you can.

— Christopher S. Gray Sr., director of golf operations for Marvel Golf Club in Benton, Ky.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Consumer Confidence in Scary Territory

Amid the highest unemployment rate in four years and the lowest consumer confidence since 2002, consumers are closing their wallets.

Consumer spending fell 0.2 percent, the largest drop since February, the Commerce Department revealed Aug. 4. The decline comes despite a $168-billion stimulus plan that includes income tax rebates.

Some of the blame is being attributed to inflation. The Consumer Price Index, which measures prices at the retail level, is up 5 percent in the trailing 12 months, the largest one-year increase since 1991.

Add a volatile investment climate, mortgage troubles and skyrocketing food and energy costs — the CPI excludes food and energy inflation — and one has to wonder how much money might be left for golf.

The National Golf Foundation has reported fewer rounds across most golf properties, but the largest declines reside in public facilities, where play is down 2.5 percent so far this year. Play at private clubs fell 1.8 percent this year.

What do you see in your market? Are daily fee courses suffering more than country clubs?

— David Frabotta, Senior Editor