U.S. golf course developers are on track to post the lowest number of openings in two decades, according to a new report from the National Golf Foundation (NGF). Measured in 18-hole equivalents, 65 courses have opened so far this year and NGF estimates that, based on the number of courses currently under construction, another 10 to 20 will open by December 31. That would bring total 2008 openings to between 75 and 85 18-hole equivalents, the lowest number in over 20 years.
“This is the second time this year we have lowered our forecast of golf course openings,” says Joe Beditz, NGF President and Chief Executive Officer. “The economic situation, and in particular the continued decline in the housing market, has and will continue to suppress golf course development activity in the U.S.”
It’s not unusual, NGF notes in its latest report, to have golf courses that are projected to open during a given year be delayed into the next calendar year, or even put on hold indefinitely. This year, due in part to a sluggish economy, more projects than usual are being delayed, the Foundation reports.
While openings continue to fall, so do course closures. So far this year there have been 74 verified course closures, and NGF currently forecasts the number of closures to be less than 100 by year’s end. There were 146 closures in 2006 and 122 in 2007. Therefore, it appears that 2008 will be the third year in a row with zero to slightly negative net growth in overall industry supply (with openings and closures canceling each other out).
The closures continue to be occurring disproportionately among public, stand-alone nine-hole facilities or short courses (executive or par-that length) that have a “value” price point, NGF notes.podcast