From the Panhandle to the Keys, golf-course communities have hit a rough patch across Florida. According to the National Golf Foundation, there were 15,516 “golf facilities” around the country as of Jan 1, 2104. And Florida leads the nation, with 1048 course (one our of every 15 courses in the U.S.)
In 2013, the federation reported just 13 course openings and 157 closings nationwide. More than 500 have shut down since the number of courses reached its peak in 2005. The falling number of courses aligns with a precipitous drop in the number of golfers., from 30 million in 2005, to 25.3 million in 2012, the latest figures available. TV ratings and sales of golf equipment are also down. This is the eighth year in a row of the industry closing more courses than it builds, and most experts expect the trend to continue.
There are ample theories about what’s behind the decline. The 2008 economic meltdown, changing leisure interests, faulty growth forecasts, even the struggles of Tiger Woods are among the suspects. The tailspin is a stark contrast from a decade ago, when the number of courses was on the rise, the economy was strong and new players coming into the game.
Peter Nanula, chairman of Concert Golf Partners in Newport Beach, Calif., said many failing courses were built too far from the population centers – and concentrations of affluent residents – needed to sustain them. Nanula, whose company buys and renovates courses around the country, is just one of those who expects many more courses to go under before the market hits bottom.