Mid-Year Update: Golf Course Closures
The downward trend in golf course closures that began in 2020 has continued into its third year. Through June, the NGF golf facility database team has discovered just under 50 18-hole equivalent (18-HEQ) closures, a 25% drop from last year at this time.
[Closures are identified through a continuous outreach process whereby the operational status of every golf facility in the U.S. is confirmed ‘Open for Business.’ Verifications are conducted using email, website reviews, online searches, satellite imagery and phone calls. At the end of June, half of the nation’s approximately 16,000 golf courses had been verified and information such as number of holes, facility type, peak pricing and key personnel updated. Click Here to access the industry’s most up-to-date database of golf courses.]
Continuing another long-term trend, over 90% of 2022 closures have been daily-fee public courses, and just over half were 9-hole facilities. Three-out-of-four had a peak greens fee under $40.
Projection for year-end
While the total number of 2022 closures is subject to change based on the results of second-half verifications, we currently project it at 95 18-HEQ. That would represent a 66% drop from the peak in closures that occurred in 2019.
Approximately 40% of closed courses have already been earmarked for residential or commercial development. For examples of what happens to the land when courses close, members can Click Here to read our more in-depth Spotlight story.
If our projection for 2022 closures is on target, that will mean that less than 1% (.007) of the nation’s 18-HEQ golf supply will have closed. Where could it go from there? Not to zero. There will always be owners choosing to close shop and retire, hoping to sell the land to help finance their retirement, along with others who find their golf course business is no longer financially viable. Furthering the point of inevitable closures: as the industry opened almost 2,700 18-HEQ courses from 1996 to 2005, almost 500 18-HEQ courses shut down during that same 10-year stretch.
So, when we will hit our natural ‘bottom’? Can’t be sure, but I’d bet within the next few years.
For more on the topic of midyear golf course closures, see this related Spotlight sidebar story with member-only research and data
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