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With the recent number of golf course closings (one every other day, according to the National Golf Foundation’s 2013 numbers), experts in the industry are looking to a variety of factors as a source for the industry’s recent troubles. According to Stine, co-founder and former publisher of Golfweek, many of the closings can be chalked up to poor development planning, “A lot of the golf courses across the country, but especially in the Orlando market, that were developed over the last 10 or 15 years were done so as amenities [not because there was a market].”
While that certainly accounts for many closings, other experts cite a “perfect storm” of changes; the 2008 recession, changes in leisure sports, and even Tiger’s troubles on and off the tee. Whatever the reason, or reasons, Peter Nanula, chairman of Concert Golf Partners in Newport Beach, CA, believes the number of still active golf courses outweighs golfers’ demand.
Many courses are changing in response to the declining numbers; more and more private courses are becoming public, or semi-public, and some have adopted foot golf, a golf/soccer hybrid which is gaining attention across the country.