Municipal golf courses around the country are casual and affordable places for all ages. But many, like Lions Municipal in Austin, are threatened.  (Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor)

Municipal golf courses across the country are at a crossroads

These are strange days for municipal golf as we know it.

Two different truths paint a confusing picture about the state of muni golf.

On the one hand, newspaper headlines indicate that municipal courses are closing, or on the verge of closure, around the country. But on the other hand, research by the National Golf Foundation throws a curveball at this narrative. There have never been more municipal golf courses in America, according to NGF, as some cities are buying up floundering courses, taking up a proactive stance against redevelopment. But is that a good idea?

A tidal wave of troubles - the struggles of the golf industry, the insatiable need of developers looking for large swaths of land in prime locations and the constant budget crunching at the city and county level - has created an uncertain future for muni golf.

In just the past six months, the cities of Houston (Glenbrook Golf Course); Aurora, Colo. (Fitzsimons Golf Course); Johnson City, Tenn. (Buffalo Valley Golf Course); West St. Paul, Minn., (Thompson Oaks Golf Course, a nine-hole executive course) and Detroit (Palmer Park Golf Course) have closed underperforming courses. Richard Singer, the director of Consulting Services for the NGF who has been studying municipal facilities for nearly three decades, said two-thirds of municipal courses lose money every year.

The closing of municipal courses "is a trend. That is something we could see more of in the coming years," Singer said.

What does that mean for golf's long-term health? Munis tend to be incubators of the game, catering to all ages and skill levels. Like many golfers, Singer learned to play the game on a muni, the Spook Rock Golf Course in Suffern, N.Y.

It's one thing for a high-end private club or expensive daily fee like Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas to close. It's another issue entirely for a community course - maybe the only truly accessible course for juniors or beginners - to disappear. Think of the implications.

Many municipalities are willing to operate courses at a loss to maintain green space and provide affordable golf as a community service, but too many are stuck with aging infrastructure and staggering losses to their bottom line. The red ink becomes a bullseye for city officials and non-golfing residents. At some point, this death spiral becomes a point of no return.

Muni golf is growing, but many are in trouble

Torrey Pines NorthInternational Links Melreese Country Club in Miami has been targeted for development.

City councils and county boards around the country are wrangling with the same age-old question: Should tax dollars be supplementing golf?

The numbers recently released by the NGF indicate growth for muni golf. The number of municipal facilities - not total courses but single facilities owned and/or operated by a government entity - grew from an all-time high of 2,492 in 2016 to 2,497 in 2017. That accounts for roughly 17 percent of total U.S. golf facilities (out of 14,794, according to the NGF's latest report).

Milton, Ga., and Oviedo, Fla. outside Orlando, are two cities that have spent millions acquiring courses to preserve green space (Boca Raton, Fla. and Denver are other examples). It's unclear how long the Milton Country Club will be used as a golf course, but Golf Advisor reviews indicate the Twin Rivers Golf Course in Oviedo is doing better under the city's watch.

User cmjohnston1 wrote in his April 24 review: "I played here last year and it was just OK. Now the fairways are in good condition and the bunkers have new sand. I heard the city took it over and is pumping money into it. Definitely in better shape than other nearby courses."

The majority of communities, though, are looking to scale back their investments in golf. A recent article by the USA TODAY Network-Florida reported that the state's municipal golf courses have lost $100 million in just the last five years.

The Houston Parks & Recreation Department closed Glenbrook on April 1 to make way for the new Houston Botanical Garden. This move shifts the city's focus and funds to its remaining courses, including Memorial Park Golf Course, which has been rumored to be a potential future host of the PGA Tour's Houston Open.

Water uncertainty and rising costs have threatened golf courses throughout California. San Jose has been threatening to close at least one of its three courses since I moved to the city's south side in 2014, according to the Mercury News. Stockton (Calif.) Mayor Michael Tubbs has been vocal about wanting to close his city's two golf courses, but backlash from the general public has created a heated debate about the future of the city's Van Buskirk and Swenson courses.

In the Midwest, Madison, Wis., is considering closing one of its four courses, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. In Minneapolis, Hiawatha Golf Course was originally slated to close at the end of 2019, but a campaign to save the course has delayed the decision at least five years, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Michigan's Huron-Clinton Metroparks, a collection of 13 parks spanning more than 25,000 acres in metro Detroit, closed two courses in 2017 - a par-3 facility where my son and I first played golf together and an underutilized regulation course - while a third course, the Hudson Mills Metropark Golf Course, almost closed before a last-minute life line delayed the decision for five years, according to the Livingston Daily. The Metroparks, which attract seven million users annually, are funded, principally, by a property tax levy and by revenues from vehicle entry fees and other fees (such as green fees). Meanwhile, Detroit's three remaining municipal courses were recently saved when the city agreed to fund a two-year management contract to a private company, according to the Detroit Free Press.

In the Southwest, the four city courses of Albuquerque, N.M., landed a stay of execution when the city agreed earlier this month to cover the budget shortfall for the year, according to the New Mexico Golf News. One cost-saving scenario being considered calls for closing one or both of the nine-hole Puerto Del Sol Golf Course and the 18-hole Los Altos Golf Course with the land being re-purposed.

Talk of closing one or more of the municipal courses in Tucson, Ariz., dates back to 2012. Silverbell Municipal Golf Course has taken a proactive stance in the fight to preserve its future. The course's website hosts a page listing news stories on the topic, the dates and locations of city workshops discussing the future of the courses and key city officials to contact. One unique idea to save the historic Randolph Golf Course is to transform its 36 holes into a tournament-caliber 18-hole routing to lure the PGA Tour back to Tucson by 2021. The Tucson Conquistadores, a non-profit youth sports organization, are behind the plan, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Maybe the inspiration came from the Jackson Park plan in Chicago, where Tiger Woods hopes to turn 27 holes of muni golf along the shores of Lake Michigan into a venue worthy of major tournaments.

Other cities - such as Seattle and Chula Vista, Calif., outside San Diego - are researching their options and recently hired consultants to study the finances of their courses.

Even facilities reportedly breaking even financially are in danger because the urban land is so valuable. Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin, Texas, is another property in a prime location caught in a heated battle for redevelopment. In this case, the land was deeded to the University of Texas, and the city has a 100-year lease set to expire in 2019. The university has expressed interest in developing the course, whose land has been estimated to be valued in the nine figures. UT alum Ben Crenshaw is leading the charge at in hopes to save the historical green space for future generations.

The International Links Melreese Country Club, Miami's only city course, is being floated as a potential site for a new soccer stadium, according to the Miami Herald. Several LPGA Tour players, such as Christie Kerr, learned the game at Melreese and oppose the plan.

"Muni golf will always have a place, but there will always be challenges," Singer said. "Municipalities have to collect garbage and pay police. If they can't make the case (for golf), they have to strongly consider to live without it. At some places, it is the survival of the fittest. At some places (golf) is just a luxury they can't afford."

Investing in muni golf

Torrey Pines NorthBaylands Golf Links took seven years to be redesigned near San Francisco Bay. (Courtesy Dave Sansom/City of Palo Alto)

Palo Alto, Calif., is one city that can afford it. The city at the heart of Silicon Valley spent $12 million on a complete redesign of the old Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course adjacent to the airport, the San Francisquito Creek and the San Francisco Bay. The new Baylands Golf Links by Forrest Richardson that debuted May 24 is infinitely more interesting and enjoyable than the original course, although some residents are already concerned about the higher green fees that accompany such a project.

Rob De Geus, the deputy city manager, admits it was a "bold" move to spend so much money on golf. He said the city has made a commitment to a diversity of recreation and arts for its residents, and that includes golf. The project also shows the city's commitment to the Baylands Nature Preserve by creating new wetlands and grasslands and a golf facility that requires much less water. Carving out 10 new acres from the old routing for a future park/sports fields were another factor that made the project appealing. The course made $3.1 million in 2008, according to the San Jose Mercury News, so there is hope of a return to profitability.

"There are wins on a number of fronts," De Geus said of the Baylands project. "We think in terms of interest (to golfers) - it is a true links on the bay - it will be more competitive (with other courses in the Bay Area). ... If you can't play at Stanford (University's Golf Course), we have a muni that is unique and special."

Alameda, another Bay Area community near Oakland, is also betting big on a multi-million-dollar redesign of the Jack Clark South course at Corica Park. (I preview the late June opening of the municipal course here.) The Sharp Park Golf Course, an Alister Mackenzie design in Pacifica run by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, someday hopes to get a similar makeover to restore a neglected gem with great bones and a historic pedigree.

Muni golf done right

Torrey Pines NorthRecently renovated by Tom Weiskopf, Torrey Pines North is one of the busiest munis in the country.

Not all munis are the stereotypical budget courses with subpar conditioning and issues with slow play. Many get it right. After all, a third of municipal facilities DO make a profit.

It is worth noting that no two munis play by the same rules to balance their budgets. Some must hire city union workers at higher wages, while others use management companies to skirt the issue. Some must pay for their own administrative staff for duties such as accounting/human resources/marketing and public relations, Singer said, while others just use city staff without adding those expenses to their bottom line. Comparing profitable munis to ones that aren't isn't always a fair fight.

Even so, it probably won't surprise you which ones do well. Bethpage State Park, home to five courses on New York's Long Island, and Torrey Pines near San Diego regularly host major golf events. That has made them famous, creating demand and higher greens fees. Bethpage Black will host the 2019 PGA Championship, followed by the 2024 Ryder Cup. The South Course at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif., shares hosting duties with the renovated North Course for the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open and will host the 2021 U.S. Open. Other famous munis include TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, host of 2020 PGA Championship and 2025 Presidents Cup, and Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., near Tacoma, host of the 2015 U.S. Open and owned by Pierce County.

The city-owned courses of SoCal's swanky Coachella Valley are flush with amenities you won't see at most munis. It's the only way to keep up with all the posh private clubs throughout the region. Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert and Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells offer free valet parking, nice clubhouses and high-end service. The SilverRock Resort in La Quinta held the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic from 2008-2011.

One of my favorite courses of all time is a muni - the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain in Bremerton, Wash. Golf Advisor's Tim Gavrich swears by his local muni, the 36-hole Sandridge Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla., owned and operated by Indian River County.

Sacramento's municipal courses are creatively run by Morton Golf Management. Its centerpiece, the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, has a rare public Alister Mackenzie golf course on site, but the real draw is everything else: a lighted, automated driving range that stays open 24 hours in summer, a nine-hole putt-putt course, an indoor/outdoor Player Performance Studio for club fitting and lessons and a Super Store stocked with fashions and gear. Haggin Oaks has led the charge in the growth of Footgolf, devoting its nine-hole Arcade Creek course to the game, as well as to beginners and juniors golfers.

Special events generate revenue that tee times can't. The Haggin Oaks Golf Expo, touted as "America's Largest Demo Days" for the past 43 years, attracts thousands of golfers every April. The sold-out 'Golf & Guitars' country music festival - paired with a golf outing that raises money for charity - was a big hit May 21.

More: Matt Ginella on the muni transformation at Goat Hill Park

Generally, the path to success for most munis is similar: Charge an affordable price and provide enough services so golfers feel like they're getting their money's worth. Whether the green fees are $40 or $60, golfers have the same expectations. Keep the course in decent condition, especially the greens, and make sure rounds don't turn into five-hour slogs.

The rebirth of the nine-hole Winter Park Golf Course near Orlando is a prime example. Golfers can overlook its lack of length (2,500 yards) because the $1.2-million redesign by Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns has made the layout fun, fast and still affordable, all buzz words in today's industry.

If they're run right, munis can provide value - both for the golfers playing them and for the communities they serve.

"What I've learned is all golf is local," Singer said. "Every municipal course has its own unique story. It has its own unique clientele. The ones that work best reflect the community that owns it."

Is your local muni in trouble and worth saving or not? Is it run right? Let us know in the comments below.

Jun 01, 2018

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Wayneo's avatar
Wayneo wrote at 2018-06-09 12:38:48+00:00:

Some of these prices for daily fee none muni courses make regular use of these courses prohibitive. Without regular play,your game suffers and you don't want to play. High green fees is killing the game. I don't see how these high end golf communities can survive.

Jimmy 's avatar
Jimmy wrote at 2018-06-07 20:07:23+00:00:

Interesting article, this is a hilarious book about a municipal course...

Jorge 's avatar
Jorge wrote at 2018-06-06 01:37:08+00:00:

Golfing in Seattle area is starting to be a rip off. Yes, you can still play Gold Mountain fairly cheap. However, Washington National is $107 without a players card $93 with. A $100 bill better get you emaculate greens...which it don’t. WA Nat don’t dry out until June (Like many courses here). Seattle has been known to have good golf, but with a price now!!! Chambers Bay $250+

Also, many courses here are usually in below ave shape:(

So long Seattle...transplants are taking over!

Kevin Grate's avatar
Kevin Grate wrote at 2018-06-08 20:39:38+00:00:

This article is about Municipal Golf . Municipal Golf are golf courses owned by the state , county or city governmens. If you speaking of Seattle proper itself they have three great golf courses well worth the price in Jefferson Park, Jackson Park and West Seattle try one of those golf courses as I said they are truly municipal golf

JOEL GOODMAN wrote at 2018-06-06 00:05:24+00:00:


roger's avatar
roger wrote at 2018-06-05 22:56:46+00:00:

Many private golf courses open to the public are in trouble in Las Vegas and selling out to Home Developers, Much chaos between owners living on the golf courses versus the Developers and the City or County, where ever they are located, Of course yhe Govt. entities want the home development because it increases their tax base.

art r's avatar
art r wrote at 2018-06-05 21:22:50+00:00:

In ocean county nrw jetsey all of its county and municipal courses lose money as do most of the surtoundinf public courses. The formrr gov passed al aw that if munis are lising money they must be orivstized or lise syste funding. All of the stste owned courses are privstized and are now probidingline item orofit to the stste of new jersey.

Rich's avatar
Rich wrote at 2018-06-05 21:02:09+00:00:

If one daily fee muni course in town took the effort to cut a walking path from tee to fairway, trim the edges of bunkers and rake bunkers they would win the contest easily for best in town. That's all it takes.

Juan Cordova's avatar
Juan Cordova wrote at 2018-06-05 18:24:12+00:00:

The main reason that Munis are in bad shape is because the customers bad manners and very bad habits, lack of the courtesy needed in a course.

Bill's avatar
Bill wrote at 2018-06-05 16:53:01+00:00:

Needles Golf course in Needles, Ca. is run by the city. Fairways are like the first cut of rough.

Greens are dried out for lack of water. Bad shape!!

John Darling's avatar
John Darling wrote at 2018-06-05 13:01:31+00:00:

Here's a problem with many muni, and daily fee, golf courses. They hire these retired old guys as starters and marshals who think that they're you're grandfather and that you're some whipper snapper that they need to put in their place. They act like they're doing you a big favor by letting you play "their golf course." Get over yourselves. I can't count the number of times, on random week days or on the weekend, when I've gone to a course, paid my green fees, and taken my ticket/receipt/whatever to the old guy starter asks me, incredulously, "Do you have a tee time?!?!" and when I say that I don't I get this indignant tone of, "Well, you're really screwing up my day." Here's an idea, just shut up and pair me up with the first group that needs a third or a fourth or the other singles looking to get out. I'm a customer. And I'm supporting the business that employs you. So treat me like one. Let me know you're glad I'm there and paid to play. In summary, shut up and let me know when I'm on the tee.

ray 's avatar
ray wrote at 2018-06-05 14:12:00+00:00:

As a middle aged "starter" - not a grandfather. Starters are trying to determine if you are a walk up or on the list. Maybe you need to get over yourself? Try to be polite - or you may not get to the tee very soon.

stiff's avatar
stiff wrote at 2018-06-05 16:28:02+00:00:

I am a grandfather & lemme say that the customer should ALWAYS be met with respect & is NOT the customer's job to be the first pleasant/happy person in such a is a business & grumpy starters/marshals are the "voice" for a lot of golf this how you would greet customers in a retail business?

Dean's avatar
Dean wrote at 2018-06-09 17:14:16+00:00:

John Darling’s point is right on. Although I see it particularly at our city’s muni course, this is a phenomenon that is prevalent at (many lower-cost public) courses around our area (NE Wisconsin). The “get off my lawn” set makes the first impression of the golf experience something that can be a pain to endure. I can’t imagine what it’s like being a new/younger player and encountering a hostile attitude from course staff; it would be a huge turn-off to the game.

Robert Berger 's avatar
Robert Berger wrote at 2018-06-05 12:32:29+00:00:

West Palm Beach Golf Course, a Dick Wilson design that once hosted a PGATour event that Arnold Palmer once won, is being starved and ruined by the mayor and city council.

JOEL GOODMAN wrote at 2018-06-06 00:08:02+00:00:


JOEL GOODMAN wrote at 2018-06-06 00:10:19+00:00:


Dennis B's avatar
Dennis B wrote at 2018-06-05 11:28:29+00:00:

In the Chicago area, the Cook County Forest Preserve, which is run by Bill Casper golf has done an excellent job of keeping all of its courses playable, some year round, weather permitting. Green fees are very reasonable, and they offer a discount card that you buy at the start of the season, which pays for itself after just a few rounds. The courses are kept up very nicely, and golf carts are kept up as well, with new equipment added every few years. Look forward to playing a number of their courses every year. Only one course has a problem as to when it books outings, without telling paying guests when they booking a tee time. Big argument with management on that one. All in all, good job!!

keith J's avatar
keith J wrote at 2018-06-05 07:57:31+00:00:

Would be interesting to understand the cost of maintaining large public parks due to mowing, planting, rangers in attendance, etc, etc, as opposed to a similar area operating as a golf course, generating revenue to sustain itself? Municipalities (Councils in my country - NZ) seek to have a certain percentage (compared to developed areas) of Public Reserve for citzen use, so it would generally be an advantage to be able to generate income (maybe even profit) from normally passive assets!

VALENTIN RUIZ wrote at 2018-06-05 04:28:22+00:00:

Great article. I live in San Antonio, Texas where the City of San Antonio contracts with Alamo City Golf Trails to manage and operate 7 municipal golf courses plus the San Pedro Driving Range / Par 3 9-hole course. Over the past 5-10 years there have been upgrades at each facility through a capital improvements program. A major factor is the use of recycled water at 5 of the courses instead of potable water. If your traveling through central to south Texas stop by Riverside GC, Brackenridge GC, Willow Springs GC, Mission Del Lago GC, Olmos GC, Cedar Creek GC, Willow Springs GC, or San Pedro Driving Range. Their are several levels of membership available which are affordable and which are complemented with Twilight rates (2 p.m.) and Super Twilight rates (5 p.m.) for non-members.

Craig Whaley's avatar
Craig Whaley wrote at 2018-06-05 02:36:49+00:00:

The fact is that the cost of playing muni golf courses is increasing, perhaps to the point in which more people make the decision to not play these courses and/or to take up golf because of the cost. The cost of turning Randolph Golf Course into a PGA Tour ready course will, over time, result in a more expensive course for Tucson area residents to play for the other 50 weeks of the year. The golf industry has shown no real signs that it is willing to change in order to get more people to begin to play the game. Golf's fate appears to be an activity for the upper class and higher.

Kenneth's avatar
Kenneth wrote at 2018-06-05 02:27:28+00:00:

Saw comment on Mirror Lakes in Lehigh Acres, FL closing. They used GolfNow until April but stopped that service. Too late I guess. I thought GolfNow was this big conglomerate that was going to help course owners. Guess not. When you go down the barter route, there's no turning back because the price point of your product has been compromised. The people at Mirror Lakes should have marketed the course themselves and not used a third party. There will be a lot more Mirror Lakes stories out there until golf course owners/municipalities take back their inventory. Sad.

Ken's avatar
Ken wrote at 2018-06-05 02:22:31+00:00:

Sometimes it is purely politics i.e. Highland Park CC in north suburban illinois.'s avatar wrote at 2018-06-05 01:23:17+00:00:

Most public courses I play (Chicagoland area) want too much for a round Of golf. Better to fill the course and bar with golfers at $15-25/round then have a half empty parking lot and a $40 tee rate. Courses need to market their product and not just wait for customers to show up.

702meimei's avatar
702meimei wrote at 2018-06-05 01:34:59+00:00:

Totally agree

Kenneth's avatar
Kenneth wrote at 2018-06-05 02:31:02+00:00:

The people that pay $15-$25 for a round of golf, do not fill up the bar. They bring their own coolers to the course.

Steven's avatar
Steven wrote at 2018-06-05 12:24:30+00:00:

It's not that simple. Say a golf course averages $35 a round and 20,000 rounds, that's $700,000 in gross revenue. Now let's drop rates like you suggest, say $25 a round, now at 20,000 rounds thats $500,000 in gross revenue. Just in order for the course to do $700,000 like before they now have to do 30,000 rounds. Now let's look at the added expense for an additional 10,000 rounds and no more income. Staff needs to increase, cart fleet may need to be bumped up, more gas or electric to supply carts, more wear and tear on the grounds. Dropping rates and adding rounds isn't the answer especially when you have to more than double your play just to come out ahead.

Kevin 's avatar
Kevin wrote at 2018-06-07 01:49:28+00:00:

That is very observant. Other revenue needs to assist or municipalities need to realize it is subsidizing recreation in the area.

mike's avatar
mike wrote at 2018-06-05 01:16:58+00:00:

I believe one of the significant impacts to public golf is the Top Golf franchise. They are up over 11% and in the Sacramento area the impact on courses is significant. I played a very popular local course which is usually very busy any day of the week and there were only a few golfers. The high cost model for Top Golf and their other costs leave many people with very little discrepancy funds for outdoor golf. Unfortunately, people will tire of this model in years to come but by them many muni courses will close and only high end fee courses or private courses will be left open. This will further enhance the decline in golfing till only the elite will be able to afford it.

StanleyR65's avatar
StanleyR65 wrote at 2018-06-05 00:50:51+00:00:

It's typical that staff writer, Jason deegan, would relate closing a muni golf course to collecting garbage and paying the police. Sounds like he sits on a city counsel or county commissioner court. Sounds like he rides the fence, waiting to fall in good grace. Your article sux.

Jim Reed's avatar
Jim Reed wrote at 2018-06-05 00:48:51+00:00:

This article exceeded expectations. Kudos to Jason Scott Deegan and to the National Golf Foundation (NGF) for Richard Singer's excellent research and perspective. As a lifelong golfer in his 70's, I am optimistic, and align myself with Richard Singer's wisdom that " all golf is local. Every municipal course has its own unique story. It has its own unique clientele. The ones that work best reflect the community that owns it."

Ted's avatar
Ted wrote at 2018-06-05 00:41:07+00:00:

Do not let the city or town run the operation. Hire someone like Billy Casper golf. They are in the golf business and know how to make a profit.

ebabes1's avatar
ebabes1 wrote at 2018-06-05 01:12:01+00:00:

If given the chance, yes BCG does make a difference. But, if you get politicians who have an agenda against the course, as happened in Woodbridge, CT, it is tough. Right now it is pasture, what a waste of a really good track.

JOEL GOODMAN wrote at 2018-06-06 00:12:08+00:00:


Robert Murphy 's avatar
Robert Murphy wrote at 2018-06-05 00:40:38+00:00:

You should check out Rockledge Giof club and its little brother Burns Vista in a West Hartford , CT for a winning combination of an 18 hole course and a par 3/executive course which attracts a 300 member men's league on Rockledge and novices and grandparents on BV.

Sandy's avatar
Sandy wrote at 2018-06-05 00:17:17+00:00:

About a half an hour from Stockton, Ca., the city of Modesto is having the same discussions about its 2 18 hole and one 9 hole Municipal Courses. They are being well managed and are in excellent condition but the city is having to look at budgetary circumstances.. However, we have the 1st Tee using the facilities and encouraging new golfers and as the economy has picked up, we have seen an increase in play, hopefully enough to delay closing decisions. I appreciate some of these ideas to promote golf in the communities and we definitely need to be Mindful of the green space and recreation this provides our residents. Hopefully we will keep the courses open for a long time,

Barbara West's avatar
Barbara West wrote at 2018-06-05 00:01:39+00:00:

Thanks so much for your very timely article. Eaton Canyon Golf Course in Pasadena, Ca. is undergoing the same pattern. Almost purposeful years of neglect and abuse by poorly chosen management companies until, WOW it becomes "underperforming". Who wants to play a poorly maintained course? Now LA County has hired a management Company that is turning it around, the golfers are coming back, and after entering into a 10 year contract with this management company they want to give it over to the City of Pasadena who already said they will not operate it as a golf course. Hidden agendas? This place is a gem and if the management company is allowed to proceed the restaurant and bar might be profitable to. It's complicated, but we are angry as golfers, homeowners, parents, First Tee, high schools which practice here, and we are fighting back. Any tips would be appreciated.

Bob's avatar
Bob wrote at 2018-06-04 23:56:59+00:00:

You should check out Osprey Golf Course in Boca Raton. The condition is consistently equal to most private courses and they get over 90,000 rounds a year on 3 nines.

Bill Janulin's avatar
Bill Janulin wrote at 2018-06-04 23:40:59+00:00:

My course in Lehigh Acres just closed today. The course is Mirror Lakes GC. We are hopeful that we can find an investor so we can at least have a 9 hole course which we believe would be a better asset for our community, hopefully make it more family friendly. Golf in SW Florida is mainly seasonal with down months throughout the summer.

City Golfer 's avatar
City Golfer wrote at 2018-06-04 23:29:03+00:00:

Boston has two great City run courses. George Wright GC in Hyde Parks neighborhood and William J.Devine (Franklin Park GC). First public courses to host Massachusetts Amateur.

mb3's avatar
mb3 wrote at 2018-06-04 23:26:14+00:00:

$30 + an hour to cut grass is what's killing muni golf.

Maureen Noonan's avatar
Maureen Noonan wrote at 2018-06-04 23:25:53+00:00:

I think perhaps some creative thinking is required. I have always wondered why golf courses could not partner in environmental activities/industries as they often have space and some activities may be complementary...redirecting storm water to them for storage and for use by the golf course, be paid to act as collecting points for some items, organising local community activities, composting/worm farming organic waste on some scale, generating power, even manufacturing material for paths for use locally from city waste, ...if they are located close to city centres.

Jim Reed's avatar
Jim Reed wrote at 2018-06-05 00:51:23+00:00:

Very visionary, Marueen, and right on target. I hope your comments reach far and wide.

Ivo Watson's avatar
Ivo Watson wrote at 2018-06-04 22:58:55+00:00:

You wrote "The Houston Parks & Recreation Department closed Glenbrook on April 1 to make way for the new Houston Botanical Garden. This move shifts the city's focus and funds to its remaining courses, including Memorial Park Golf Course, which has been rumored to be a potential future host of the PGA Tour's Houston Open." Houston the 4th largest city in the USA has 2 courses, Memorial Park Golf Course and Sharpstown, and as far as having a PGA Tour event a Memorial it would be a nightmare, no parking and it is landlocked no room for people. A Botanical Garden, Houston already has three which is more than the golf courses. Glenbrook was the best bayou course for the bayou city for the everyday golfer.

Cryin' Shame's avatar
Cryin' Shame wrote at 2018-06-04 22:16:45+00:00:

Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta, GA is a muni but is now closed for "remodeling." It will drop from 28 holes to 0 holes (with double greens), add a practice facility for GA State University, and the GA golf museum. Bottom line: 1/2 a muni course is gone.

Dave Sansom's avatar
Dave Sansom wrote at 2018-06-05 09:24:42+00:00:

You’re missing the point on this one. The property has been acquired by the state and leased to The Bobby Jones Golf Foundation. The old muni was cramped, unsafe and very poorly maintained. There was also no practice area. The new course will be a world class, reversible 9-Hole course, which was the last design done by the late Bob Cupp, one of golf’s great designers. In addition to the course, there will be a wonderful practice facility, The Cupp Links, a short course for kids and all of Georgia’s golf organizations... PGA Section, GSGA, etc, will be housed in Georgia’s new Golf House. I think, once it is completed, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised, and Atlanta will have a great new public facility... not a muni, but public, nonetheless... that will properly honor the most famous golfer of all time.

Kenneth's avatar
Kenneth wrote at 2018-06-04 21:14:19+00:00:

The city of Albuquerque had problems with their manager of the course a few years ago. He paid for his point of sale system by bartering tee times and city accountants found out they were paying $60,000 a year for a POS system that should cost about $6,000. Made alot of taxpayers angry. He had other issues as well. If some of these city courses would stop using barter to pay for computer systems, they would find their bottom line would increase.

Michael Mclain 's avatar
Michael Mclain wrote at 2018-06-04 21:11:26+00:00:

The State of Delaware purchased two courses over the last decade. Deerfield (formerly a DuPont country club course) and Garrison Lakes in Smyrna are now state run. The state, county and city governments bankroll baseball, basketball and soccer facilities in our area. Why not golf?'s avatar wrote at 2018-06-04 20:29:49+00:00:

Offer more introductory free golf clinics get more wanting to play 9 holes ONE must GIVE TO RECEIVEE That’s How I got Involved and became a founder of the LPGA

will's avatar
will wrote at 2018-06-04 20:22:27+00:00:

you mention Albuquerque NM considering closing two nine hole courses but ABQ has only one nine hole muni course that being Puerta Del Sol. Los Altos is a 18 holes course.

Robert's avatar
Robert wrote at 2018-06-04 22:36:02+00:00:

Not a muni, but UNM North is a 9 hole and always on the chopping block for more housing in that area.

Mike B's avatar
Mike B wrote at 2018-06-04 19:50:31+00:00:

Mill Creek Golf Course in Boardman, Ohio. 36 holes opened in 1928 and designed by Donald Ross, tough to beat for a municipal course and for the price.

Bob 's avatar
Bob wrote at 2018-06-05 00:41:14+00:00:

I agree. Where can you get 2 Donald Ross layouts for the price they charge. It is the best value in golf in NE Ohio. Also Cleveland, Ohio has 2 of the nicest munis I have seen in Sleepy Hollow in Brecksville and Manakiki in NE Cleveland. They are all the golf courses you would want without paying $49.00 or above in greens fees.

Pauly's avatar
Pauly wrote at 2018-06-04 19:34:30+00:00:

Garbage...if it ain’t making money, blacktop it...

Tony Vaccaro 's avatar
Tony Vaccaro wrote at 2018-06-04 19:34:16+00:00:

Bobby Jones Golf Club is the municipal 45 hole facility in Sarasota Fls

It was designed by Donald Ross and Bobby Jones and opened in 1927

It is in disrepair and needs $11 million in renovation to make it playable again

I fear that we will lose this greenway gem to development because the city has let it decline beyond repair and has no funds to fix it

History will be lost

Can anyone help

Alex's avatar
Alex wrote at 2018-06-04 19:32:46+00:00:

Muni courses are prime spots to adopt FlingGolf, which is a multi-generational family-friendly sport that is played with a golf ball and in the same foursome as golfers - like snowboarding and skiing. UNlike footgolf or frisbee golf, flinggolf requires zero changes to the course, it is very easy to get started and makes no damage to the course. Some courses are already seeing thousands of rounds played, bringing in significant revenue - new players filling otherwise empty tee times.

Todd's avatar
Todd wrote at 2018-06-04 19:30:09+00:00:

I’m in Brooklyn NY. Dyker Beach had and maybe still has the dubious distinction of being the busiest course in the US. Weekend rounds are a train wreck at 6 hours. Even here they only put what is necc into the course to maintain it. Catering and events pays the bills. Nice banquet facilities in addition to golf could help keep the lights on elsewhere too

John Cerino's avatar
John Cerino wrote at 2018-06-04 19:28:21+00:00:

I applaud Palo Alto for redoing their course, but they miss the point if they raise prices. Golf's problem is cost. Cities have recreational budgets with which they subsidize many activities. Golf should be one of them. It is a great tourism draw and contributes to the local economy.

Walt Pendleton 's avatar
Walt Pendleton wrote at 2018-06-04 21:08:29+00:00:

Everything the next generation wants from a sport has to be easy to learn, cheap as dirt and fun to play! Golf is going back to a rich man’s game! However, Top Golf has gotten 2 out of 3 right!

Dave Sansom's avatar
Dave Sansom wrote at 2018-06-04 19:26:14+00:00:

I. like many golfers, have spent a great deal of my golfing life playing munis. I also have spent a good deal of time on them as a professional golf course photographer ( the un-attributed image you use in the article above of Baylands is mine, by the way) and am very aware of the issue of cities, budgets and golf courses being scapegoated. I just photographed all of Salt Lake City's munis, and am jealous of the quality of golf that city provides its residents. I don't believe there is a city in the country with a better collection of munis. There are certainly some better individual munis... The Max, in Laredo, Texas and Thousand Oaks, California's Los Robles Greens come to mind... but I'm not aware of a city that provides such a wonderful collection, and selection, of golf courses for its resident golfers to enjoy. But even there, the support of the city is tenuous. I sincerely hope this trend can be turned around, because public golf matters.

Jeff Pett's avatar
Jeff Pett wrote at 2018-06-05 02:57:11+00:00:

Next time try Eagle Mountain in Brigham city, 60 miles north of Salt lake city

Robert G Dwyer's avatar
Robert G Dwyer wrote at 2018-06-04 19:08:12+00:00:

The Schenectady Municipal Golf Course is one of the finest golf courses in the tri-cities area. Recent renovations have made it even better. It is a revenue generator for the City of Schenectady NY,. That said none of that would be possible without the outstanding and talented staff now operating the facility. Their passion for golf makes it all possible.

TJW's avatar
TJW wrote at 2018-06-04 23:36:38+00:00:

I enjoy Schenectady Muni whenever I am in the Electric City in the warmer weather.

Lloyd Davis's avatar
Lloyd Davis wrote at 2018-06-04 18:58:31+00:00:

I play at the Grapevine, TX municipal course, and it's terrific. We have 27 holes that are beautifully maintained, and offer a challenging, but not over-the-top difficult outing. The course has recently cleared/re-worked a few areas that were leading to slow play. Our weekend morning foursome has earned one of the coveted early starting tee time, enabling us to play in just under 3 1/2 hours. The clubhouse isn't anything special, (nor is it a bad clubhouse) but the staff make YOU feel special.

john's avatar
john wrote at 2018-06-04 18:57:51+00:00:

With the companies like Club Corp and Concert golf purchasing Private facilities that are in debt.... looks like they're buying up real-estate in hopes that golf will fail.... not a bad financial hedge on the future... but very very SAD for golf...

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.