Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Economy and Golf Architecture

Frog's Breath - a private nine built while things were too good

I remember watching the economic crisis on 2008 unfold. I had more than a passing interest in what was going on since my wife and I invest in stocks. It’s easy to panic as your investments get cut down 10 or 20% in a short period of time, but we are buyers and not sellers, so we had a slightly different perspective than some. But the reality is that the movements of the market creative massive emotional swings in society. The stock market represents our fears and hopes more than it does our economy.

But November 2008 was different. It was a black swan event and was not to be taken lightly. Through the events that unfolded as the financial crisis became clear I watched all my work dry up in the Spring of 2009. I’m used to a lot of calls beginning in March and the season finding a head of steam by April. The clubs where I was supposed to work stopped projects and no new calls came in for a while. In my conversations with different clubs I found they were all scared.

Through good fortune I ended up with a lot of planning work that year. I had also financially prepared for a setback (too much work going on when participation was dropping fast - the dance had to end) and I used the additional time to do a few things that I always wanted to do. I’m not prone to panic as it turns out.

So here we are in another period of massive gyrations and wild emotional swings. There was a week with four consecutive 5% swings back and forth which suggests that emotions and emotions were running the day.

I started to think about the economy a lot recently. The impact that 24 hour news has and how they generate ratings through fear. I started to think about a stock market where programmed selling based upon quantitative analysis move the markets.  It got me thinking about how on occasion how fragile everything feels.

So it got me thinking about the calls I have received from a few new clubs recently, a few old clubs making inquiries and even from the clients that I work with. I thought about what projects they want to do and what their “short-term” interests are. What I don’t get from any of them is a sense of fear. Everyone is aware of what’s going on, but the fear that permeated every conversation in 2009 is just not there.

The swings in the stock market are not what I pay attention to. It’s the underlying mood of the club I service that matters most. Their optimism tells me that I’ll remain busy with renovations while I patiently wait the decade out for the next run of new golf courses.

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