Golf course closures aren’t all that newsworthy anymore.
Closures have become part of the current golf landscape. Facilities that aren’t near population centers or fail to take care of themselves properly -- whether that’s marketing or course conditioning -- are most susceptible.
A closure is like a death in the family for many loyal local golfers. Eventually the grief will pass, and they’ll move on to greener pastures. The highest profile courses to close in 2016 were an interesting mix of facilities.
It’s rare that golf resorts shutter their one course, but that’s the case with several courses on our list. Perhaps even rarer is seeing the hottest architect on the planet -- in this case Gil Hanse -- lose one of his earliest designs, which is set to become a solar farm. RIP, old friends.
The following dozen golf courses, compiled by Senior Writer Mike Bailey and I, all had an appeal as both a public facility and also as a destination golf course, and, with the exception of a couple properties that may one day have golf once again, are all gone for good.
Did you lose a favorite course in your hometown? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @GolfAdvisor.
The Falls, New Ulm, Texas
Just 71 miles from Houston, The Falls Resort & Golf Club was one of the Houston area's few golf resorts and represented a departure from the norm with its hilly terrain and at one time, bentgrass greens. It was also one of Jay Riviere's finest designs. In fact, the late Texas architect had a house on the course. Unfortunately, through the years, fewer and fewer golfers were willing to make the trek from overbuilt Houston to play the course.
Windermere Golf & Country Club, Orlando, Fla
Tough economic times and the opportunity to develop spelled doom for longtime favorite Windermere Golf & Country Club, which opened in 1957. The Butler Chain of Lakes served as backdrop to the course, which was designed by Ward Northrup in 1986. The greens and bunkers were recently renovated in 2010. The club was down to just 80 members when it was closed. Plans call for the 155 acres to be turned into lots for 95 single family homes.
Blackhawk Trace at Indian Lakes Resort, Bloomingdale, Ill.
A longtime local favorite in the Chicago area, the 27-hole Blackhawk Trace Golf Club closed at the end of the 2016 season. The course was part of the Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort, whose owners are shifting their strategy from outside markets to the local market and plan to beef up the hotel with investments. Originally opened in 1965, the facility consisted of the Highland Course, Woodland Course, and Island Course - along with a terrific clubhouse and practice facilities. Designed by Robert Bruce Harris, all three nines were distinct, though the Island nine, with its island green par-3 hole, might have been the favorite. Parts of the layout underwent an extensive renovation by Rick Jacobsen in 2003.
Elk Ridge Golf Club, Atlanta, Mich.
Guns will replace golf clubs at Elk Ridge, regarded as one of the top 20 public courses in Michigan since opening in 1992. It was arguably the best work of Michigan-based architect Jerry Matthews, who designed more courses in the state than anyone. The natural site featured marvelous holes intertwined by marshes, a stream and large ponds. Industry insiders indicate the course seemed to be doing fine, but an offer to buy the land for use as a private hunting preserve was too good to pass up in today’s climate.
Riddell's Bay Golf and Country Club, Bermuda
It shouldn’t come as a shock that the oldest course on the island finally succumbed earlier this year. The beautiful ocean views weren’t enough to overcome a quirky, unkept layout of 5,857 yards that was squeezed on a narrow peninsula in 1922. Two world-class layouts – the Mid-Ocean Club and Port Royal Golf Club – are probably enough on the tiny fish-hook-shaped island in the middle of the Atlantic.
Country Club of Woodbridge, Woodbridge, Conn.
There is still hope for Woodbridge, which closed at the end of the season. A local developer involved with the celebrated Yale Golf Club wants to upgrade the course into a "top 100" track and build a hotel that would attract traveling golfers, according to a report in the New Haven Register. The other option would be a Toll Brothers community for senior citizens. Either way, the municipal course bought by the city during the recent recession won't ever look the same.
Weatherwax Golf Course, Middletown, Ohio
When the MetroParks of Butler County acquired the golf course property in late 2015, it announced that it was going to combine it with the adjacent Sebald Park to create the new Elk Creek MetroPark, and that was the end of Weatherwax. The 36-hole complex, which opened in 1972, was designed by Arthur Hills and then Tour professional Tony Jacklin. In 1996, the courses and practice facilities received a facelift, elevating it to top-10 status in the state of Ohio.
Badlands Golf Club, Summerlin, Nev.
One of the Las Vegas area favorites, the 27-hole Badlands Golf Club is the latest victim of development north of the strip (Silverstone GC closed last year). The course was bought in 2016 by EHB Companies, the developers behind high-end retail center Tivoli Village, which has plans to close the golf course and develop lots for high-priced homes. The course was already the backdrop for the upscale Queensridge Estates development, home to Andre Agassi, Jack Binion and members of the Fertitta family. Badlands was a Johnny Miller/Chi Chi Rodriguez collaboration that consisted of the Desperado, Diablo and Outlaw nines, all target golf and very challenging. As was the case with Silverstone in 2015, proceedings between residents and developers have gotten off to a contentious start according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Black Bear Golf Club, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
One of Myrtle Beach's more economical plays, Black Bear Golf Club closed its doors in 2016, presumably after falling on hard times. It has been listed for sale. Its former head professional and GM had sued the owners for unpaid wages and golf shop revenues, and the club had undergone significant expenses regrassing its greens after the putting surfaces suffered winterkill the year before. Opened in 1989, Black Bear was a 6,800-yard par 72 designed by Tom Jackson.
Lost Canyons Golf Club, Simi Valley, Calif.
The two Pete Dye courses named Shadow and Sky closed in June, but there is still hope for golf to return within 5-7 years to the rugged landscape well north of Los Angeles. The Simi Valley Acorn, the local paper, reported earlier this fall that proper permitting was almost in place to transform the 1,770-acre site into a community of 364 homes with a new golf course as its centerpiece.
Roddy Ranch Golf Course, Antioch, Calif.
After 16 years as a golf course, this J. Michael Poellot design of 6,976 yards will return to ranch land in the “East Bay” 45 minutes from San Francisco. Not even 40,000 rounds per year could offset the water costs in California’s ongoing drought. That’s too bad because many golfers enjoyed its natural setting (free of home sites) and friendly price tag ($45-$70).
Tallgrass Golf Course, Shoreham, N.Y.
Hanse had tremendous year in 2016 highlighted by a successful return of golf to the Rio Olympic Course he built, but one of his affordable public courses in Metro New York is on its way out. Hanse did a nice job on Tallgrass, given its featureless site on Long Island. Fescue grasses lining the fairways gave Tallgrass a linksy look, and his creative green sites lent the layout its personality. Tallgrass has been “day to day” all season, which by most indications will be its last. Chicago-based Invernegy, plans to install 125,000 solar panels on the course's 127 acres.
Mike Bailey also contributed to this report.