Golf Course Closures Could Spur Construction

June 11, 2018

Younger people are not replacing older generations of golf enthusiasts, prompting many golf courses and clubs to shut down—and making room for new construction. The number of regular golfers dropped from 30 million to 20.9 million between 2002 and 2016, according to Pellucid Corp., a golf industry trade group. Now, because of golf facility closures, hundreds of thousands of acres of land nationwide is available for redevelopment, The Atlantic Monthly’s CityLab blog reports. 

The average 18-hole golf course sits on 150 acres, and at standard densities, that’s enough space for 600 single-family detached homes. But many golf courses are zoned for commercial use, so developers will have to find ways to include housing in redevelopment plans. In the meantime, developers are drafting up million-dollar commercial redevelopment plans to buy sections of foreclosed golf courses. For example, in a Kansas City suburb, one golf course is slated to become an industrial park. And in suburban Jacksonville, Fla., another golf course will be transformed into a mixed-use retail, office, and hotel development. 

“Golf probably isn’t coming back—at least not at the kind of scale it once boasted,” Nolan Gray, an urban planning researcher, writes in a column for CityLab. “Whether or not this bust can be a boon or a wash for suburbs and cities will likely be decided by hundreds of small zoning fights … over the decade. If recent pushes to downsize and preserve golf courses are any indication, it will take some effort and foresight on the part of planners and policymakers to get former greens productively redeveloped.”