Thursday, May 9, 2019

From the long overdue department: Madison has no choice but to close some, if not all, of its public golf courses

Madison golf courses post record loss, renewing talk of closures.  (, 5/8/2019)
After struggling for years and hit by an especially wet season, Madison’s public golf courses lost a record $863,320 in 2018, leaving the future of city golf operations uncertain with long-term closure of all four courses on the table, city officials said Tuesday.

Notes from Golf Courses:  An Ever-Changing Challenge.  (American Association of Appraisers)

Three traditional types of courses
  1. municipal
  2. daily fee
  3. private
Golf course closures during the 2000s
  1. 1083 facilities (or the equivalent of 800 18-hole courses)
  2. 57% 9 hole (Glenway and Monona category)
  3. 93% public
  4. of the public facilities that closed, 85% charged a green of $40 or less
Golf course openings during the 2000s
  1. 81% 18 holes or more
  2. >60% real estate or resort
  3. 66% of public facility opening had green fees >$4
  4. 28% private
  5. 92% regulation courses

  • 1950s golf 'boomers' are aging out of the game by 100,000 players per year
  • From 2009 to 2010, number of rounds declined 2.3%, with higher numbers in Florida
    • 8.4% Tampa region
    • 7.4% south Florida
    • 6.9% Orlando
  • Avid golfer profile
    • 56 years old
    • $82,000 annual income
    • golfs 25 times per year

The financial loss highlights the uncertain future of the Golf Enterprise Fund, which operates Yahara Hills, Glenway, Odana Hills and Monona golf courses. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said she will be pulling together a task force to develop recommendations for the city's golf operations. 
“Everything needs to be on the table,” Rhodes-Conway said, including closures. “These are significant pieces of land in the city’s parks portfolio and what is the highest and best use for them. I think that’s really the question.”

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