Growing over what was once the Mitzner Trail Golf Club are weeds and broken palm trees. Even the once-beautiful ponds are covered with a slimy green film. Unfortunately, the state of this particular Florida golf course is common. In fact, there are literally thousands of similar courses throughout the state, referred to now as goat farms or rabbit patches.
However, within close proximity, you will see construction workers building a new 150,000-square-foot activities center. This center is part of a $50 million renovation to the Boca West Country Club, a 44-year-old establishment where more than 6,000 people live. At this golf club, new plants surround the fairway and homes fetch upwards of $5 million.
Golfing in Florida
In Florida, the winter golf season is just starting. As the leader in golf courses in the country, boasting more than 1,000, Florida demonstrates both failure and success. At one time, Florida golf courses were all the rage. Tiger Woods and others brought people in to see an excellent sport, but now the economy and even personal tastes are changing. As baby boomers age and millennials take up golf, there is a new generation that loves spending time on the golf course.
In the entire United States, approximately four million more people now golf, compared to a decade ago, according to the National Golf Federation. However, as far as the number of 18-hole golf courses, roughly 650 have closed over the past seven years. In fact, experts point to a trend in which anywhere from 130 to 160 golf courses close annually in the United States alone.
In South Florida, as well as other areas of the country, literally dozens of public and private golf courses are in transition. While some courses have asked for protection under bankruptcy laws, others have sadly gone into foreclosure. Then there are other golf courses, along with condos and single-family homes, being constructed on land that at one time was simply open space on a map. The other group of golf courses consists of those waiting to resolve zoning or legal disputes.
To draw in golfers, a number of golf clubs have lowered membership fees and other related expenses. In addition, some clubs now offer amenities for families and provide activities outside of golf. The bottom line is that some golf courses are adapting quite nicely while others continue to struggle.
Buildable land in South Florida is diminishing. As such, many developers view golf courses as nothing more than wasted space. Instead of seeing massive and luxurious golf courses in the middle or luxury residential communities, they are disappearing. However, even with the decreasing number of golf clubs, the number of people who enjoy playing is on the rise. Whether more golf courses will be constructed to keep up with demand remains to be seen.
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