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Of Courses

The National Golf Foundation—the industry’s research arm—has published its final numbers on course openings/closings for 2013, and they aren’t pretty. According to the NGF, only 14 courses (in 18-hole equivalents) opened in the U.S. last year, while 157.5 closed. Break the numbers down and you see that of the 14 new courses, 8.5 (61%) were public and 5.5 (39%) were private; of the closures, 151.5 (96%) were public and only 6 (4%) were private. So public golf is taking it on the chin. The NGF report notes that while there were few openings, “some…are exciting additions to America’s golf course landscape,” citing Gary Player’s The Cliffs at Mountain Park in South Carolina (reviewed in the Winter 2014 issue of LINKS Magazine, out soon) and Tom Doak’s Red Course at Dismal River Club in Nebraska (shown above, and reviewed in our Fall 2013 issue, readable here). Perhaps, but those two high-end, out-of-the-way tracks, good as they are, don’t give us much hope for the future of course construction. By the way, if you’ve ever wondered how many courses are in the U.S., the NGF reports a total of 14,564.5, with public ones accounting 73% of the total (roughly 3.5-to-1 daily fee to municipal) and 27% private.

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