Climbing Out of the Hole

The latest National Golf Foundation (NGF) report on golf facility development and rounds played brought modest encouragement that downward trendlines of previous years have been reversed and will continue to climb at a slow pace in 2005.

Last year brought openings of 150.5 18-hole equivalent courses, the new NGF numbers show, representing 200 actual facilities (some of which made nine-hole additions to existing nine-hold courses). There are now just over 16,000 golf course facilities in the U.S., the NGF added, and just over 15,000 18-hole equivalents.

A larger percentage of 2004 openings were daily fee and private than is reflected by proportions for all existing courses. Municipal courses were underrepresented among 2004 openings.

The 2004 openings were widespread geographically, occurring in 43 states. Florida, California and Texas continued to be the states with the most active development, but not by as large a margin over other states as in previous years.
For 2005, NGF projects a potential increase of close to 10 18-hold equivalent facilities, 60% of which will be real-estate related, the research group says. Two out of three project openings are daily fee, but the majority of those are not stand-alone, with 59% of these openings also being real estate-related.

NGF says it is currently tracking construction of 320 18-hole equivalent facilities and says it expects 50-60% of them to open this year.

This year, too, construction activity is spread widely across the country, with facilities now underway in 48 states. NGF says it has identified a total of 670 courses currently in planning.