Meet Golf's Most Powerful Person. It's Not Tiger Woods

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Chances are that most fans have never heard of Eric Affeldt, who tops Golf Inc.'s list of the "Most Powerful People in Golf," but he's certainly having a better year than Tiger Woods.

Affeldt is the CEO of ClubCorp, which owns or operates more than 150 golf and country clubs, business clubs, sports clubs, alumni clubs and resorts in 25 states, the District of Columbia and two foreign countries, with more than 350,000 members. He tells the trade publication that the company is "in a good position now to grow more aggressively and add more properties."

ClubCorp's success comes as many in the golf business are struggling. Golf has become a time-intensive luxury that fewer people can afford as they cope with a moribund U.S. economy. The National Golf Foundation estimates that the number of golfers fell about 3% in 2008 from 2007, according to the National Golf Foundation, which also says that 15% of the country's 4,400 private golf clubs face serious financial problems. Even the legendary Jack Nicklaus has seen his course design work slow, Golf Inc. says.

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"Eric has re-energized ClubCorp and has his eyes set on new course acquisitions at a time when most golf course owners, especially private clubs, are retreating," said Jack Crittenden, Golf Inc. editor-in-chief, in a press release.

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Since Affeldt joined ClubCorp in 2006 from private equity firm KSL Capital Partners, ClubCorp has invested an estimated $200 million to make its clubs more family-friendly, adding features such as water parks and fitness centers, along with classes in cooking and bridge, among other topics.

The company's properties include: Firestone Country Club (Akron, Ohio); Barton Creek Resort & Spa (Austin, Tex.); Mission Hills Country Club (Rancho Mirage, Calif.); Capital Club Beijing; and Metropolitan Club Chicago.

Nicklaus, who is the CEO of Nicklaus Designs, finished third on the list. Woods, who recently lost his spot as the top player in the world, was seventh. Here is a link to the rankings.
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