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January 2020

A Look Back at 1995


Golf Business magazine celebrates 25 years

By Boots Gifford

In 1995, then National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) Executive Director Mike Hughes introduced the first issue of Golf Business magazine with these words:

“We are launching this magazine for a number of reasons. … Golf Business will be the foremost publication for the golf course operator because it is designed to meet their unique needs. It will address a broad range of issues affecting the golf course as a business. It will cover virtually every significant area of operation including the pro shop, golf course maintenance, food and beverage operations, marketing, insurance, legal liability and human resources, just to name a few. The reader will get plenty of practical information on how some of the best operators overcome hurdles and make the most of their business. You will also learn about the latest operational methods and technologies that will keep you one step ahead.”

Twenty-five years later, Golf Business has stayed true to that mission of delivering golf industry news that provides owners and operators with the tools they need to be successful.

Along with the inaugural cover story on Gary Schaal, which is revisited in this issue’s cover feature, the 1995 first-run addressed a number of topics that still resonate with our readers in 2020.

The Business Advisor section focused on preparing to sell your golf course. Written at the time when owners were still selling because they wanted to, not because they had to in the post-Recession years, the article shared tips on document preparations, membership transfers, employee contracts, and more, stating, “with proper preparation and the structuring of an ‘exit strategy’ early in the acquisition and development of the golf facility, numerous sale issues and costly offsets and reductions in the purchase price can be avoided.” Succession planning also was raised, which Golf Business will again address in 2020, as exit strategies continue to be tricky in a family dynamic if not executed properly.

The liability risk factors in the hiring and firing process were the subject of another business column in 1995. The article addressed concerns amid “the recent explosion of claims alleging discrimination in the workplace that stems from increased public knowledge and awareness as well as new laws that expand both the coverage and remedies for violations.… these laws are intended to protect both applicants and employees who are members of a ‘protected class’ from discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment.” In 2020, employers may feel confident they understand the discrimination laws implemented more than 25 years ago. But in the wake of the “Me Too” movement, workplace discrimination and harassment is being viewed through a new lens. So, labor issues will remain an important topic.

In 1995, the top issues addressed in “The Latest Legislative Rulings Concerning Course Operations” were Clean Water Legislation, Fair Labor Standards Act Reform, Health Care Reform and Independent Contractor laws. Today, these are some of the same topics NGCOA’s Director of Advocacy Ronnie Miles investigates in his regular column “Addressing the Issues.”

Features on the spring buying season for pro shops (Nicklaus for Women was a hot item), Palm Springs golf culture (where NGCOA would hold its national conference that year), an architect’s take on tips for sculpting fairways and a piece on avoiding drainpipe fitting failures rounded out the stories.

Throughout 2020, as Golf Business strives for continued excellence in bringing readers today’s hot topics – from gamification and simulators, to artificial intelligence applications and online tee time companies, to food truck rodeos and games after dark – in each issue we’ll continue to take a Look Back over the last 25 years, and share some blasts from the past.

Boots Gifford is the editor in chief of Golf Business magazine and the director of education for NGCOA. Do you have a favorite story from the last 25 years of Golf Business? Let her know at and it may be featured during our 2020 celebration.



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