Ryan, while I agree with your assessment of renovation projects being the niche to look at these days, it takes the right client to take a “chance” on these renovations these days. With golf rounds down nationally 25-40%, it is somewhat of a leap of faith for owners to renovate their course to try to spark increased rounds. Yes, there are several case studies that indicate this works, but it really boils down to the local golf market. Here in KC, we are so saturated that it doesn’t much matter whether you have renovated your course or not. The most recent to renovate was a muni that averaged 72,000 rounds per year in their hayday (2001 was the peak). They did it because they needed a portion of the existing course for a world-class soccer complex and in exchange they got a couple million to renovate the course and add new holes to replace the ones they gave up. It changed the course dramatically and made it so much better (replaced flat, back and forth, boring golf holes with woodland holes that have elevation change, all new greens as well), but in the end, their rounds are still down 15% instead of 25-40%. They are, however, still turning a profit.
Anyhow, this is a great conversation and I wish I were still in the golf business. If a client came to me and said they wanted to build a course, I would love it. Otherwise, we are not chasing golf work anymore. Too many consultants out there competing for the very few projects that are happening. Of course, this is not unique to the golf market now.
Thanks for setting up this group. I obviously still really enjoy talking golf architecture!