On Change, Golf and Millennials

I was drifting as I often do Monday morning when I decided to check out the distress debt listings from our bond desk.  I saw Golf Town Canada/Golfsmith debentures and wondered what the golf press looks like.

Before going any further, while I own a decent set of clubs, I am undoubtedly one of the worst golfers around.  It’s not that I lack athleticism or the wherewithal to be a decent golfer, it’s that I am loath to invest the time and effort to be so.

One Google search later and the first article that caught my eye was from Business Insider – “Millennials are Hurting the Golf Industry”.  There are times I think that the press throws around the “Millennial” tag like some specter representing some malevolent force of unreasonableness that disrupts the status quo.

The many reasons for the long decline in popularity that I came across were all anecdotal.  From where I sit, it is no wonder that many golf courses are being turned into subdivisions.  After all, the ultimate economic driver for any business is “next best use”, and if the acreage of a golf course is worth more as undeveloped land than as a going concern, it will fast become a subdivision.  I guess I’ve always seen golf courses as suburban parking lots – a source of revenue until something better comes along.

Business conditions, like the evolution of society because of demographics, change.  My neighborhood local, my rock bar, closed because the landlord decided that it made more sense for him to have different uses for the space he owned.

Casting my eye up and down Queen Street between Spadina and Dufferin shows that many businesses, former stalwarts on their respective blocks, have closed and given way to the mind-numbing sameness of chain retailers, trying to reinvent their big-box-retailer-bound former selves into something more relevant.  What is more significant, I suspect, is that the “next best use” that has driven rents ever-so-higher for commercial tenants ultimately will be a landscape populated with condos, flanked and faced by historical facades, catering to a population that is more into convenience and shopping online that doing the retail dash.

The closest I come to Millennial is having four as kids.  If they are however drivers of the trends I take advantage of, bless them.  Friday night I did the grocery shopping (Costco and Walmart), laundry and bought some Bluetooth headphones for my iPhone.  All online.

I can no more roll back the present to the past than you can.  As inconvenient or unpleasant as some of the things that happen today can be, it is what it is.  And besides, my rock bar reopens four blocks north.  And I’m never going to be a good golfer.

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