How Often Are New Golf Courses Opened?

golf course

Although golf experienced some setbacks from the recession and the diminishing of the “Tiger Effect,” according to the World Golf Foundation (WGF), it is still a vital industry that is larger than performing arts and spectator sports combined.

WGF estimates almost $69 billion is spent in the US on golf goods and services every year, contributing almost $177 billion to the economy.

That translated into to 2 million industry jobs in 2014 as reported by the PGA. These are positive indicators for career opportunities in golf.

Annual Course Openings

Currently there are just over 15,000 golf courses in the US.

Roughly 15 brand new courses open every year and 60-75 reopen from renovation or prolonged closure.

Renovated and remodeled courses represent the largest sector of course development in the US.

In 2015, most courses that closed were lower-priced tracks with green fees of less than $40.

In effect, the current slowdown is a result of overbuilding during the Tiger boom years.

For the two decades prior to 2006, golf enjoyed a 40 percent growth rate, with the result that the US now represents 45 percent of the global golf market.

The National Golf Foundation (NGF) expects around:

  • 20 new course openings
  • 75 major renovations/re-openings
  • and about 150 to 175 closings in 2016

Growth of the Game

In the 2016 edition of Forbes’ ongoing State of the Golf Industry interview series, Pete Bevacqua, CEO of the PGA of America said rounds in 2015 were up for first time in 4 years — about 2 percent.

More than 2.2 million people started playing in 2015.

He said the number of participants in PGA Junior League golf, which is designed as a team competition for girls and boys under 13 years of age is up 235 percent in the last 5 years.

Get Golf Ready, a program created to bring young players to the sport, has more than 100,000 graduates and an impressive 73 percent three-year retention rate.

Youth participation has risen to 3 million in 2015, up from 2.5 million 5 years ago, an increase of 20 percent.

The First Tee program is now available in thousands of elementary schools and youth centers — it has grown to more than 180 chapters at 900 golf outlets.

Golf Ratings Are Up

Golf TV ratings are also showing signs of a comeback.

The return of golf to the Summer Olympics was a hit in Rio de Janeiro, with the overnight ratings pulling a 6.3, the second-highest number of any 90 minutes of golf on TV in 2016 excluding the last round of the Masters Tournament.

The Golf Channel’s Sunday morning coverage also did well, garnering its best ratings in the 6am-12noon time period since Tiger captured the Dubai Desert Classic in 2008.

Especially encouraging was the number of young people watching golf at the Olympics on NBC.

Viewers between the ages of 18-49 made up 30 percent of the total, the highest percentage of young viewers since the US Open in 2013.

Evolving Industry

The golf industry is changing in other ways.

Topgolf, founded in England by two brothers in 2000, is taking America by storm.

There are 23 locations around the US and more than 30 worldwide.

Think of it as a deluxe version of your local driving range, with huge lighted targets instead of greens, pounding rock and hip hop music, comfortable couches for every hitting area, a full bar and waitress service.

Youthful Exuberance

It is also successfully introducing young new golfers to the game.

Around 66 percent of the players are younger than 35, and 50 percent of them have never touched a golf club before.

And it is just as popular with women as men.

Topgolf is a very visible example of the opportunities in golf outside of standard courses.

More than 18 million people participate in golf at golf simulators, Topgolf outlets and traditional driving ranges.

Seven million of them consider themselves non-golfers.

Nice Rebound

Golf is rebounding nicely from the worldwide economic slowdown.

Moreover, it is evolving and changing with the times.

With more than 100 new courses every year in the US, an increase in the number of young golfers getting involved in the sport, concepts like Topgolf gaining popularity and unprecedented course construction in countries like India and China, golf is finding its footing again.

With expansion come new job opportunities from the pro shop to the general manager’s office.

If you are looking to start a career in this exciting industry, consider a golf course management degree from the College of Golf at Keiser University. Contact us today at (888) 355-4465.