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NGF Update: Golf Facilities in the U.S.—2016 Report Released
Supply Correction Continues its Gradual Move Toward Equilibrium – Retains Trajectory Similar to Recent Years

As of year-end 2015, the United States had 15,204 facilities with 14,288.5 open and operating 18-Hole equivalent (18-HEQ) courses, according to the NGF’s 2016 Edition of its annual Golf Facilities in the U.S. report. The final 2015 count showed a net reduction of 148.5 courses, or a 1% contraction from 2014.

2015 golf course “stocks and flows” included the permanent closure of 177 (18-HEQ) courses, and the opening of 17 new ones (up from 11 in 2014). Other supply and demand movement comprised courses that either closed temporarily for renovation or re-opened from one, and a small number that unexpectedly emerged from prolonged closures to entertain golfers again.

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Why does NGF use 18-HEQs in reporting total supply?

How does NGF verify Openings and Closures?

It is important to note that the cumulative reduction in golf course supply since the trend started in 2006 represents only a 5% pull back from the high-water mark set that year, which pales in comparison to the 40% growth that occurred in the two decades preceding 2006.  In large part due to that unprecedented expansion, the U.S. is home to roughly 45% of the world’s courses and remains the world’s best supplied golf market with a great variety of options in nearly every city.

Daily fee, lower-priced and 9-hole courses continue to be the segments that are disproportionately represented among the closures. Roughly two-thirds of the (18-HEQ) courses that closed in 2015 had greens fees of $40 or less.

“NGF continues to view the net reduction in U.S. courses as a natural economic response to overbuilding,”said NGF’s Chief Business Officer Greg Nathan. “We expect the walk back toward equilibrium to remain slow and continue for several more years.  Unfortunately, some will continue to view this gradual supply reduction as a negative when, in fact, it is a healthy rebalancing of supply and demand.”

For the second consecutive year, golf course renovation and reconstruction was the largest source of course development activity in the United States. More than 90 (18-HEQ) courses reopened from renovation in 2015 (roughly half of them closed and then reopened during the 2015 calendar year). A total of 17 new 18-HEQ courses opened during the year.

NGF’s outlook for 2016 is in line with recent years. It expects to see approximately 15 to 25 new course openings and 50 to 100 major renovations. Closings are expected to remain in the 150 to 175 range.

The Golf Facilities in the U.S. Report—2016 Edition summarizes the nation’s total supply of daily fee, municipal and resort golf courses, as well as private clubs. The data is broken out by state and region. The report also includes detailed information on golf course openings and closures in 2015, as well as the number currently in planning and under construction.

For a complete look at U.S. facility supply, download the full report at (free for members), or call 866 275-4643.

Why does NGF use 18-HEQs in reporting total supply?
18-HEQs (the total number of holes divided by 18) is a derivative measure NGF uses to provide the most accurate account of total golf course supply in the U.S. For example, two stand-alone 9-hole courses (courses are defined as a tract of land containing at least 9, but not more than 18 holes of golf) are measured as one 18-HEQ even though they are a part of two different facilities (facility is defined as a business location where golf can be played on one or more golf courses). Likewise, a facility with 27 holes of golf would be measured as 1.5 18-HEQs courses. Therefore, the total number of facilities and 18-HEQs are not directly comparable. [Back to Top]

How does NGF verify Openings and Closures?
Each year, NGF takes exhaustive measures to track openings, closures and renovations to provide the most accurate and comprehensive database of golf facilities in the U.S. (as well as in the other 200+ other countries around the world). Every golf course in the U.S. is contacted and their status is verified, including the total number of holes and whether they plan to close or currently have nine or more holes closed for renovation. Permanent closures found during these contacts or through other sources are then verified and documented.

In identifying openings, NGF maintains contact with most golf course builders and architects. Additionally, NGF monitors additional sources, including media and industry publications that assist in identifying new openings. Courses previously reported as under renovation are contacted to verify the date of reopen. Additionally, NGF tracks the reopening of courses that were previously closed for reasons other than renovation.
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