Featured photo: iStock/molka

Hundreds of golf courses have closed in the past decade. When will the bleeding stop?

Many people believe the golf industry needs this stock-market like correction because it was overbuilt. But it sure seems like this “correction” is lasting a long time.

Many years ago, proponents of this correction said the golf courses that were closing needed to go. Many were rundown public nine-hole establishments that the industry could do without. But it’s clear that the “correction” is effecting golf courses of all types, including high-end private and public 18-hole courses.

I understand that some of these courses had no choice but to close because they weren’t sustainable. They were poorly run and not making money. They were also poorly designed, meaning they were too difficult to play and too costly to maintain.

I’m sure many of you are like myself: You wish you could do something to help some of these courses stay open.

So that’s why a recent press release from Staples Golf Design caught my eye. Staples recently unveiled its Community Links program, a curriculum designed to help struggling municipal golf courses update their business models so they find ways to increase use and become financially viable.

“Municipal golf in America has traditionally played a very important role in growing the game, and creating access for those looking to learn to golf,” says Andy Staples, the golf course architect behind the Community Links philosophy.

Staples is offering a white paper detailing the Community Links program, which can be downloaded here.

“The intention of this white paper is to present a real alternative for municipalities to consider when approaching their course’s future; the current model for many of these facilities just isn’t working, and closure, unfortunately, may make the most sense,” Staples says.

While this is a business opportunity for Staples, it’s definitely worth promoting. If other golf course architects offer similar plans, we would be happy to promote them in the digital and print offerings of Superintendent magazine.

We would be foolish not to promote any plan that helps private, public or municipal courses stay in business. The way I see it, we’re all in the same boat when it comes to growing the golf industry – and stopping the bleeding of more closed golf courses.

Too many jobs are lost when courses close. Too many golf course superintendents and others have their worlds turned upside down.

If you have an idea to help golf courses remain viable, please send it my way. We need to do our part – and want to do our part – to help this industry remain sustainable.

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