As SW FLorida's housing market improves people are seeking more bang for their golfing buck and the demand for high-end courses has hit a saturation point, thus causing developers to question the value of building courses instead of houses. The number of golfers in the U.S. dropped by almost 20% from 2003 to 2013, according to the National Golf Foundation. 200,000 players younger than 35 quit the game as of 2013
In recent weeks, two major developers in Collier County have asked the County Board of Commissioners to rezone thier properties, allowing them to get rid of proposed courses and instead build more homes. In Lee County, there haven't been any such requests, but the county hasn't received an application for a new course since 2010.
Golf communities in Southwest Florida come in two varieties: bundled, in which golf membership is added to the price of a home and the standalone public or private course, which is often interlaced with a separate community. The golf industry in SWFL isn't in a crisis, but courses have a noticeable decline in numbers. There is a finite supply of golfers willing to pay membership fees that can reach $200,000.
A major issue for the bundled communities is the extra cost it can tack on to a home, often tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. A survey shows that only 11-12% of people in golf communities actually play golf. "Recession-weary buyers know how quickly a home can lose value, so spending money on something they won't use makes golf a tough sell", according to Jack McCabe, CEO of McCabe Research and Consulting.