I'm not sure why it took me so long to put this Dennis Cauchon story from the USA Today up. Perhaps because it's somewhat depressing.
Here's the subtitle: "Golf courses are being plowed under in record numbers to make way for residential and commercial developments."
Golf course openings fell from a peak of 398.5 in 2000 to 124.5 last year when measured in 18-hole equivalents, the National Golf Foundation reports. During that time, course closings soared from 23 to a record 93.5 last year.Even more ominous for the future of the game:
When courses temporarily closed for renovation are included, the USA had fewer golf courses open at the end of 2005 than a year earlier — the first year-to-year decline since 1945.
Golfers still have plenty of places to play: 16,052 courses nationwide.
"Golf courses aren't generating the returns people like to see," says Mike Hughes, chief executive of the National Golf Course Owners Association. "The land has appreciated so much in value that it makes abundant economic sense to turn the property over to other uses."
Shorter golf courses and par-3 courses are being redeveloped especially rapidly, the National Golf Foundation says.
Some homeowners who bought houses on golf courses have been surprised to see their views disappear. "The golf holes go away and suddenly you have people living in your backyard," says Mike Waldron, executive director of the Georgia State Golf Association.
Golf courses are being built where land is cheaper and more rural. Golfers still have many choices but may have to drive farther to play.
"It's like when your favorite grocery store down the street closes," says Jack Nance, executive director of the Carolinas Golf Association. "You're sad, but you deal with it."