Midyear Update: U.S. and Worldwide Course Supply
( Click to listen to audio version)
The U.S. is the best-supplied golf country in the world, by far, with more courses from Alaska to Florida than the next top 10 nations combined.
But the game of golf also has remarkable geographic spread, with at least one course in 83% of countries and territories recognized by the ISO (International Standard Organization). That’s 207 of 249, in total. And that number will climb to 208 later this year with the opening of a new course in Iraq designed by Cynthia Dye, daughter of Pete and Alice.
NGF maintains the official database of golf courses worldwide, with the support of our presenting sponsor, the R&A, and other corporate backers. Our team of researchers works to continually verify the operational status of every golf facility outside the U.S. on a 24-month cycle, and on an annual basis within the U.S.
At the midway point of 2023, there are more than 37,600 golf courses worldwide. For perspective, that’s slightly more than the global number of Starbucks locations (35,700+), with golf found in more than twice as many countries as the company’s Mocha Frappuccino.
Our U.S. verification process through mid-year is signaling a continuation of the demand/supply equilibrium trend that has been building for the past few years. Closures are on pace with last year, which ended up with the fewest since 2005 – prior to the Great Recession. New golf course development is slowly ticking upward.
It’s intuitive that as golf enjoys increased participation and engagement, fewer owners and operators will be motivated to sell or shutter courses. But this too will always be driven by local market dynamics, not to mention the demand for land and the interest that golf courses elicit given their size. Consider the 36-hole, family-owned public facility in New Hampshire that recently sold for almost $122 million so Target can build a distribution facility.
At the same time, a small number of operators/owners/developers who have been sitting on the sidelines have clearly decided the time is right for a new golf project – if the market calls for it.
Members can get more information here in our related “Spotlight” sidebar.
We’ll be tracking the numbers throughout the rest of the year.
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