With golf numbers in decline and around half of Australia’s 1,500 golf clubs in financial distress, US-based international technology company Crystal Lagoons may be the saviour that many are seeking.
Increasingly, the company, which creates unlimited size lagoons suitable for swimming, sailing and water sports, is being called on to either convert parts of golf courses or establish a lagoon within a reconfigured course.
Last month Crystal Lagoons announced a 12.1 hectare crystalline lagoon with Steve Wynn ofWynn Resorts on the Las Vegas strip that is proposed to replace an 18-hole golf course. The lagoon will be the centrepiece of a round the clock entertainment destination, offering an idyllic beach and lagoon for swimming, boating, sailing and paddle-boarding by day and the backdrop to fireworks by night – right in the heart of the Las Vegas strip.
Germàn Rocca, the Sydney-based Oceania Regional Director of Crystal Lagoons, said the beachfront lifestyle offered by Crystal Lagoons presented golf clubs with a way to retain a nine-hole course, or reconfigured 18 holes, while offering an amenity with universal appeal. “The golfing industry knows they have a problem attracting young members and players,” said Mr Rocca. “In Australia the number of younger players is a fraction of what it used to be and that is because so few people can devote five hours to a round of golf.”
“When both parents work and fathers want to be hands-on parents they are looking for activities that the whole family can enjoy. If you can offer a short course alongside a lagoon then you don’t have the problem of unhappy golf widows and kids.”
“By boosting membership and participation thanks to Crystal Lagoons’ technology, golf club revenues are going to increase, something that is vital for older clubs who need the cash flow to upgrade ageing facilities.”
Mr Rocca said Crystal Lagoons had helped to turn around a number of struggling golfing developments, notably the Diamante Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, and Las Brisas development in Santo Domingo, Chile. Diamante Cabo San Lucas, one of the premier luxury resorts in Mexico, inaugurated three years ago, was able to accelerate sales by broadening its demographic with the inclusion of a 4 hectare Crystal Lagoon. The lagoon complements its recreational facilities which includes a Davis Love III designed course, named in the prestigious Golf Magazine Top 100 as one of the best in the world, and a Tiger Woods designed course currently under construction.
The Las Brisas project, despite its coastal location and 27 hole golf course, considered the best in Chile, was selling only two family lots a year. Crystal Lagoons built a 2.2 hectare lagoon and immediately single and family lot sales increased, achieving more than 200 per cent price premium. Mr Rocca said the Las Brisas redevelopment involved reconfiguring just one hole but achieved a complete turnaround for the project.
“It was a dramatic reversal which demonstrated why Crystal Lagoons are being hailed as the top amenity in the world,” said Mr Rocca.
“We see enormous potential in Australia to assist clubs that are struggling with declining membership and club facilities that desperately need upgrading. Crystal Lagoons is the perfect complement for them. The lagoon offers recreation for every age group and can be established as part of a golf and entertainment destination or to enhance the appeal of a residential golf course development.”
Mr Rocca said the low construction and maintenance costs were appealing to developers. “We structure our agreements so that developers can begin marketing the amenity right from the start. For developers, this is a more cost-effective way to provide amenity compared to a golf course which costs around $1 million per hole.”
On-going costs are equally attractive with the lagoons only needing water to compensate for evaporation. Water consumption is 30 times lower than a golf course and they use 100 times fewer chemicals than traditional disinfection and drinking water systems. Lagoons use only 2 per cent of the energy required by conventional filtering technologies.