June 2013

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Diversified Golf Course Contractors Wait for Greener Days Sector Check Heritage Links of Houston, Texas, performs creek work along a fairway at Liberty National Golf Club in New York, making use of an articulated dump truck from Hydrema. Builders say the industry took it on the chin during the recession, and equipment demand for course construction has changed dramatically. By Larry Coffman While the stock market has made a nice recovery in the wake of the recession, it's not exactly fun and games for the golf course building industry right now. A recent report from the National Golf Foundation showed that 13 new courses opened in America in 2012, while 154 closed. This means that a lot of heavy machinery used for earth moving and sculpting is sitting idle. "For the past four years, the industry has been struggling," said Mark Slugocki, vice president of Wadsworth Golf Construction Co. Slugocki, 59, has been with Wadsworth for 37 years and works out of the company's southwest region office in Buckeye, Ariz. "There are very few new projects in the country," Slugocki said. "The main reason is housing (construction) is down. It appears that east of the Mississippi is doing better than west of it. The international markets have also slowed down." The tough economic times have forced the golf construction industry to change in order to survive. That means that renovations are outpacing new construction. "While new course construction is at an all-time low, renovation-type projects are at record highs," reports Justin Apel, executive director of the Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA). "Many courses are updating their irrigation systems, reducing maintenance areas and modifying their courses for player enjoyment, creating a market for contractors and suppliers. 20 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | June 2013 20_Golf_Sector_Feature_KP.indd 20 5/31/13 2:35 PM

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