(upbeat music) – As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get much better than this. If you wanna play golf in a lovely setting with weather, probably 325 days a year, then you’ve come to the right
place because you can’t beat, you can’t beat those vistas. – [Host] You wouldn’t
know it from those vistas, but golf is in a crisis. The sport’s popularity has
declined in recent years as younger generations
haven’t taken to the game with the same level of
enthusiasm as their predecessors. There’s also an issue of
too many golf courses. In the last decade, about 800
golf courses have closed down across the country, with
200 of those taking place just in the last year. These closures have freed
up large swaths of land, leaving towns with the
problem of what to do with that land that is left behind. One town that is
struggling with this issue is Oro Valley, Arizona. Located outside Tucson,
Oro Valley is known as one of the best destinations
for golf in the Southwest. That’s because until last
year, the suburb of 44,000 had seven golf courses,
which along with warm winters in the Catalina Mountains, attract golfers from around the country. But lately, golf in Oro
Valley hasn’t been doing well. Last June, Rancho Vistoso, a private club, declared bankruptcy,
shutting down its 18 holes. And this year, the town has
been struggling to decide what to do with its
unprofitable municipal course, the El Conquistador. Mike Schoeppach lives down the street from the El Conquistador, where
he plays three days a week. Like many Oro Valley
residents, he’s concerned about the prospect of redevelopment. – Why would you abandon this? I mean, this is a treasure. Not continuing to make
a reasonable investment in this property is insanity. – [Host] Ironically,
it wasn’t that long ago the developers viewed
building along a fairway as a surefire way to gin up home prices. – These courses have been
here since the mid 1980s. They were built initially for the purpose of selling real estate. There’s no question about that. – [Host] In the 1980s
and 90s golf was booming. Spurred on by the success of
the sport’s biggest ever star, Tiger Woods, the National
Golf Foundation encouraged the industry to build a
course a day for 10 years, and that’s what happened. Over a 20 year period more
than 4,000 new golf courses were built in the US, in large
part thanks to home builders who made new golf courses
the central amenity in the communities they
built around the country. – Well a hot topic to discussed
tonight in Oro Valley. The fate of the town’s golf courses. – The justification over
a town owned golf course has divided the community
for several years now. The controversy continues
with the council set to vote on the issues
in the upcoming weeks. – [Host] The question of what to do next with the El Conquistador has split the town of Oro Valley into two camps, those against redevelopment
and those for it. – If you’re asking me whether
seven courses are too many for the town of Oro
Valley, I would say yes, and that’s because some of the courses have gone out of business. That tells you that there’s
more supply than demand. – [Host] Richard Furash’s Hyperlocal blog LOVE Let Oro Valley Excel has
been scrupulously covering the El Conquistador issue. – The people that wanna keep the courses wanna keep the courses
cause they’re their courses. They don’t wanna change. It’s simple. – [Host] Leading the
opposition to redevelopment is Jennifer Lefevre, an Oro Valley resident who lives on the El Conquistador course. – So we’re behind the street
that I live on right now, and unfortunately we have had
some neighbors put their homes on the market due to the
uncertainty of what’s gonna happen with the golf course. They moved here for their retirement. They made the home exactly
the way that they wanted it, and they’re walking away
cause they can’t deal with the stress of what may
happen behind their home. – [Host] In 2014 Oro Valley
purchased the El Conquistador Golf Club for $1.2 million. Since then it has been
unable to turn a profit, and has been subsidized by local taxes. Recently the council outlined two options for the town to consider moving forward. Keep all 36 holes and try to
make the course profitable, or reduce the number of holes to 18 and transform the other 18 into a park. – Mayor Joe Winfield who
was elected last November in part on a platform to bring
changes to El Conquistador says the town council will vote on the fate of golf in Oro Valley. – [Councilman] Mayor Winfield? – Yea. (crowd applauds) – [Reporter] Well some
people were celebrating in Oro Valley last night. The town council there
finally made a decision about its three golf courses. – [Host] After months of
contentious debate the town of Oro Valley voted to
buck the national trend and preserve its 36 holes of golf, but this was a compromise that reflects the new
realities of the sport. As part of the deal to save the courses club members agreed to pay
higher membership fees, and two homeowner associations agreed to increase their fees
to keep the courses open.

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Dennis Veasley

100 thoughts on “What Happens To Abandoned Golf Courses | WSJ”

  1. There are barely any pushes for golf. People have a preconceived notion that it’s boring because it’s slow and quiet and that it’s only played by rich people, and justifiably so. What else are they supposed to think when sports like the basketball and football are heavily played in schools and TV, and anyone can pick up a ball and play? Golf clubs, organizations, etc. have enough money to keep it alive, but “will they” is the question here.

  2. if the WYTE People there are "Stressing out" due 2 Closure of Golf courses i'm sure the rest of the Country is feeling their "Pain"!! 🙄

  3. Whatever you do, make sure you turn up to Trump golf course. Otherwise the President might face bankruptcy again and might take revenge on US policies.

  4. Let them KEEP the holes and maintain it with their $$$.
    If they can't put up the $$$, then turn it into parks.
    Bottom line: $$$ speaks.

  5. Interesting, little mention of the cost and ecological implication of these courses – especially, since it's located in such an arid zone.

  6. Turn it into a godamn public park. Irrigation already built into the systems, bathrooms likely in place. It’s literally a seamless transition

  7. 1st world problems – 1 golf course or 2 golf courses in my back yard?

    3rd world problems – 1 meal or 2 meals for the day?

  8. im a millennial banker. my baby boomer bosses loves golf. its part of their lifestyle sport and business.
    im a quite fresh mid manager. i dont like golf. i dont make deal in golf courses. all of my millennial friends (fresh mid manager) dont like golf. so yeah, golf is sure dying. since millennials dont like golf.

  9. If young teens were smart they would pick up golf instead of these other sports … pro golfers make stupid money

  10. It is unbelievable to see that these people agree to pay higher HOA and club membership fees to keep the golf courses but they are so against to pay higher taxes to get better healthcare. Baby boomers need to go extinct already.

  11. People pay money to play golf. People do not pay money to go to parks. You still have to mow the grass and care for it. At least some of that money is recouped by golf. Zero of that money is recouped by a park. A park will, in fact, lose more money for the town.

  12. If golf courses and the general public are so adamant on keeping said golf courses alive, they should add golf variants (ie. footgolf, minigolf, disc golf, etc) to keep it profitable and to get younger audiences to come.

    Alas, I've noticed most boomers have scoffed at the notion of such a proposal, but it seems tempting.

  13. Close the extraneous golf courses! They use too much water, especially in places like Arizona. The land could be better and more responsibly utilized.

  14. Maybe golf is dying in certain parts of America but not Columbus Ohio. 4 years ago you could get on just about anywhere and play. Now every non-private course is packed almost every day of the week

  15. Golf is in decline because it thought that its customer base should be more than what it was and, in thinking that it could capture a greater audience, began building as if it would. Then when all of its pandering effort toward juniors, minorities, et al failed it ended up with a greater supply than demand. The lesson here is what it is in so many industries: the marketplace functions efficiently, so never go against the marketplace. Unfortunately, the PGA of America has its eyes closed and continues to play the political game of pandering rather than supporting its Members, as the charter mandates.

  16. Municipalities should not be subsidizing people's recreational activities, period. That is simple not the function of city government, or government at any level.

  17. Golf is for impotent white men that hoard potential life saving wealth. The sport, and the people that play it need to go away.

  18. There has never been a busier time for golf all around me. Tons of people and kids! this is all a lie! who cares about a couple Arizona courses…no one equates golf with Arizona get it straight.

  19. "Why would you abandon this? I mean this is a treasure."

    No, this is you definition of treasure. For me and maybe most of us, is just bad handling of public money.

  20. It's sad alot of people won't give golf a try. It's truly the most fun and challenging sports I've picked up. Nothing quite feels like hitting a 300+ yard drive I would maybe compare it to hitting a home run on a major league field. PURE JOY

  21. Sorry, old man, but the amount of water wasted to smack that ball is the actual insanity. I like the game, but the number of courses in the state and country is ridiculous. How about converting into local growing space and teach the populace to start feeding themselves.

  22. I'm mid 40's and not making 6 figures. Golf is hard to learn but easy to enjoy. Anyone can buy used clubs, join a membership group and play for pretty cheap. I used to laugh and think there was no physical demand to the game but boy was I wrong. Great way to unplug from life for 3-4 hours and enjoy the outdoors.

  23. Golf courses are really property developments to sell houses. Just like the railways back in the 19th century which didnt make money from rail fares but from the land development that accompanied the opening up of land with towns, industrial development and housing. Once developed the golf course and properties become a depreciating asset.
    Moreover, golf is a time consuming game. You virtually write off a full day, playing and coming and going and is anti social if the whole family is not involved.
    In the US and UK golf course are overcrowded with long waiting times, hold-ups on the course and occasional hooliganism etc. Membership to top country club golf courses in the US can run intomillions in equity membership fees.
    Perhaps 18 holes pver a full Par 4 course is a bit too much. More Par 3, 9 hole course of reasonable size with maybe one or two long holes which would cut 4 or 5 hours off the time needed could rejuvenates the game. I.E. one could play in the mornning or PM.
    Its roots belong to another era of time availability and old gentility such as cricket which involves a 3 day expenditure of time.
    The writing was on the wall when golfers stopped wearing funny coloured trousers.

  24. Absolutely, right, in a desert you want to keep pumping water and chemicals so that grass stays green! Don't worry about the chemicals, they'll show up in the groundwater. Makes total sense.

  25. I don't like golf, but the courses are good for fires and floods. They serve an important part of infrastructure in many places.

  26. Maintaining 1 course is already expensive and 3 is insane. Eventually, they will shut down 2 of those and repurpose them for other public use. Makes no sense in wasting money on a declining sport. The younger generation are more geared for online games and social activities. Every out door sport will see declines in the coming years unless they can market themselves as a better recreation.

  27. my daughter and son in law lived on an abandoned course. it was horribly mis managed and was not located in an area that would financially support the course. the course was a selling point for the surrounding neighborhood. they built and sold as many lots/ houses as they could which is only about 25% of the available lots. after about 10 years the course tanked and now the selling point of the neighborhood is defaulted. good luck trying to sell.

  28. The maintenance on a golf course is insane. The costs are crazy. I worked on a beautiful dual course here in Kissimmee fla. I did mowing, bunkers weedwacking etc. we had 20 workers on each course. We made $10 hour. Each course used 500 gallons of gasoline per week, at (2012 prices, $3.20 a gal) if a $40,000 fairway mower didn’t break a part, say a clutch for $1200 that week.parts for all the mowers, real expensive, sand trap machines, rough mowers, greens mowers, weed eaters all the seeds, chemicals turf stuff, shovels etc. all machines need small engine mechanics who don’t work for $10 an hour. Each course needs flags, cups, ball washers , soap drinking water, and a dozen other things. Then there are the golf carts, whether electric or four strokes need massive maintenance constantly. I could go on and on. People complain about $12 greens fees. It’s getting impossible to turn a profit. The expenses are just too much today…the hoa and taxes pay for a lot of the expenses and a lot of people are not happy about it. A nice course here in south Florida just closed, lekerika, been there since 1923. Developers are knocking on the door to build more dollar generals. Sad

  29. I don't play it because I didn't grow up with it. Millennials grew up during the video game, and early cell phone era. Parents bought that for their kids, and that's what we like to do. You grew up with golf? Great, now you're 50 still playing. Same concept. But if you don't actually do those things with your kids, and push them towards that stuff, they won't grow into it as an adult. Granted, they might not even if you do push them towards it, but chances are way better.

  30. It's a global problem. Letham Grange in Scotland ( 3 miles from my house) closed for good last week after being run by members for the past year but they just couldn't sustain it anymore

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