Golf is coming back, but things still aren’t great

Lots of good news in the world of golf these days, from an increased number of rounds of golf players in 2012 to an economy that might be improving and thus giving some people a little more spending cash for the game.

But just to sober you up from the giddy news in some areas comes this report from the National Golf Foundation: in 2012, more than 150 golf courses in this country closed.

It’s safe to say that the number of closures of courses continues to outpace the number of openings. Facilities opened in just 18 states last year (none of those were in the Coachella Valley).

Just a few other nuggets on courses in the country from 2012 from the NGF:

– Just over 25 percent of the courses in the country are private. Compare that to the desert, where about 50 percent of courses are private.

–NGF says 19 percent of courses are involved with real estate developments. Gosh, in the desert it seems like 100 percent.

–the five states with the most supply of golf courses are Florida, California, New York, Michigan and Texas.

So the next time someone tell you that things are looking up in golf, remind them that the NGF says one course closes in this country ever other day last year. That should make them think a little harder.


Rounds up in 2012. So golf’s not dead yet?

The National Golf Foundation issued a report this week saying that there were 26 million more rounds of golf played in the United States in 2012 than were played in 2011. That’s a 5.7 percent increase in a time when many people have been worried about the health of the game.

According to the NGF report, improved weather, particularly in the northern part of the United States, is one of the big reasons for the jump in rounds play. Overall, 490 million rounds were played in 2012. That includes a 10 percent increase in the Atlantic Coast area and a 10.8 percent in the Great Lakes area last year. Since those areas are where most of the golf courses in the country are, there is good news all around,

But what does this mean about the people who have been kind of doom and gloom sayers about the game? Does it mean they have been wrong about the game’s health, or does it mean that just better weather is the reason for the increase, not a better economy or man increase in the core number of players in the game.

That’s where many people see the biggest threat to the game, the fact that the number of players is not growing. Yes, it’s great that the golfer who do play played more last year, but it’s a long-term problem that the number of players continues to creep downward.

For now, let’s celebrate the fact that golf had a good year in 2012 and that the number of rounds played were up. But let’s not lose focus on the idea that we still need to be focused on where the game will be in 10 or 15 years, not just where the game is now.