Monday, April 5, 2010

In which the economy's heavy hand is stayed, at least for a time

I've never been a big fan of golf, despite my father's best efforts. He's always tried to get me into the game, but I've never really seen the appeal. I do like that it doesn't really require special clothing and that it usually takes place in very nice-looking locales, but I don't care for the pace, which is sluggish at best and absolutely intolerable at worst (i.e., when you're behind a slow group), I don't like the lugging of equipment (carts being verboten as somehow a negation of the whole thing as a "sport") and ultimately I can think of better ways to spend six hours. And being outside for that long is often unpleasant for me. When's the weather ever right for golf? In the Summer it's too hot to play, in the Fall it's too windy and chilly, Winter is deeply unpleasant, which I guess just leaves Spring, at least when it's not raining. My guess is that there are only about five or so weeks that are fit for playing a year. The only real reason to play is for the camaraderie, which is admittedly nice, though achievable via other means.

In any event, my dad and I were driving past the old course we used to go to in Roseville, Indian Creek. Which is something of a dump and long has been. There's more weeds than grass, it's only nine holes, barely raked sand traps, etc. My dad dubbed it "Billygoat Acres", which has sort of stuck, and while we have some fond memories of the place (and more than a little nostalgia), I don't really think we'll miss it, since it's been some years since we've gone there. Still, it's been there for who knows how many decades, a beacon of semi-rural continuity, manifested in the form of mediocre golf.

Anyway, The Goat (as it can be called) was sold a while ago to a developer in order to build new homes, which makes sense. You very rarely see new golf courses opened these days in California because they almost never make their money back. The only profitable ones are the ones where some guy bought 100 acres of land back in 1936 or so, when land in California was dirt cheap (pardon my pun) and set up a course. Now, land is just too expensive. California's housing market has been exploding for decades (before imploding a few years ago), land has become expensive, and when it comes to building a big new golf course, the numbers just don't add up. It's unsurprising that some golf course owners are considering dumping the land off to developers to build houses on--golf courses are usually in the nicer parts of town, and the land itself is usually very lovely. It's basic economics.

Except for that little housing downturn a while ago, which wound up ruining a certain developer's plans for The Goat. So, it's still there, in all its glory, and probably will be for some time to come. I have no idea if it's still operating (I sure hope so), but it survives for the time being. Knowing that makes me happy, though I'll probably never actually play another round there again.