H-CENTRAL COAST

Jun 23, 2011 8:25 PM by Danielle Lerner

More golfers teeing off at local courses

Could it be a sign the economy is turning a corner?

Local golf courses say business seems to be on the upswing in the last few months. For some, the numbers are the highest they have been since 2006. Heading into summer, golf pros and course managers are cautiously optimistic things will stay that way.

Thursday was another busy afternoon at Cypress Ridge Golf Course in Arroyo Grande, a welcome sight after years of declining revenues.

"In the years we had preceding this one, people decided not to play golf as a way of saving money," said Steve Delgado, general manager of Cypress Ridge Golf Course.

Now it seems locals and tourists are more willing to hand over some green, to hit the greens. In the past six months the number of rounds played at Cypress Ridge has increased more than nine percent. An increase in deals and discounts is not hurting either.

"We introduced a new player's club card this year which we felt we had to be more aggressive to get local play, and that's worked well for us," said Delgado.

It's a similar situation at Dairy Creek Golf Course in San Luis Obispo, which also runs the Morro Bay Golf Course.

"We've done a little better job of marketing, getting our product out in front of the customers," said Kent Lauble, head golf pro at Dairy Creek.

That, combined with discount offers like the SLO Player's Card seem to be working. So far this year business is up nearly four percent at Dairy Creek, and about one percent in Morro Bay.

"It's going to help the restaurants, it helps the hotels, it helps stimulate the economy from a broad spectrum, especially from the tourism, they're coming into our area," said Lauble.

"You couldn't ask for a better place to have for this type of leisure activity," said Dale Wolff, who plays the course at Dairy Creek often.

Another reason the numbers are so encouraging is because of that wet winter. Weather has a big impact on how many people tee off, so local courses say those numbers would probably be even higher if playing conditions were better.

KSBY News called a dozen golf courses up and down the Central and South Coast. All but two said they have noticed an increase in business. The Monarch Dunes course and Hunter Ranch say business remains flat.

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