There's an expression Americans sometimes use to describe a sure-fire enterprise. It's so certain to succeed, we say the owner has "a license to print money." If you run the only cold-drink stand in broiling Death Valley, for instance, you have a license to print money.
And for the longest time, so did anybody who built a golf course. In the 1990s, golf soared in popularity as the nation warmed to the exploits of a charismatic young champion named Tiger Woods. The game grew and grew, to the point that almost four hundred new courses opened each year. A blizzard of golfing magazines, golf equipment, golf clothing and jewelry, golf tournaments on TV -- even a nationwide, twenty-four-hour golf channel on cable television -- rode the golfing wave.
But something happened on the way to the bank. Some of the people who made a fortune on golf have found a NEW license to print money.
According to USA Today newspaper, last year just 125 -- not four hundred -- American golf courses opened. And a record ninety-three actually closed -- an unheard-of development for these "can't-miss" investments.
It seems we may finally be reaching the saturation point for the number of scenic places that can be turned into golf courses. Nobody has stepped forward to consistently challenge Tiger Woods, so it seems almost a given that he'll win every time he plays. But the biggest reason the golfing boom is slowing is that entrepreneurs are realizing golf courses sit on really valuable land in prime locations. So there's even MORE money to be made closing courses, subdividing the land, and building expensive homes there.
Owning real estate in fancy neighborhoods. Now THAT'S a license to print money.