Golf Course Preservation
Saving Golf Courses from Conversion to
If you're concerned about a proposal
to convert a golf course to housing or other forms of development, then CEDS
can help. For a free initial discussion of strategy options contact
CEDS at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org.
To see an example of the type of strategy CEDS can help you develop click on:
Preservation Initial Strategy Analysis Example.
2006 the number of golf courses closing each year has exceeded the
number opened. Over the past ten years
800 courses have closed nationwide. Yet there are still more than
16,000 golf courses in the U.S.
This trend has been attributed to declining interest in golf combined
with a glut in the number of golf courses. However, this doesn't mean
that the course you treasure must close. There is much that those
living near a course can do to keep it open. Following are some of the
many good reasons for preserving a golf course.
There are many good reasons for preserving a golf course. Following
are a few of the more important ones.
Homes located next to a golf course can sell for
40% more than the same dwelling located elsewhere. This also means
that those living next to a golf course paid a premium for that benefit.
This makes it exceedingly unfair to convert the golf course to other land
uses which negate the increased property value and other benefits enjoyed by
Aquatic Resource Health
Several decades ago there was great concern about the
impact of golf courses on streams, rivers, lakes, groundwater and other
aquatic resources. However, Integrated Pest Management,
Naturalization, and other innovations have dramatically reduced the loss of
pesticides, fertilizers and other forms of golf course pollution.
Converting a golf course to other land uses, like housing, can cause
substantial aquatic resource damage. Each acre of rooftop, street,
parking lot and other impervious surface built on a golf course
can damage up to 660-feet of downstream waterways. While ponds and
other stormwater management measures may reduce the impact, nothing protects
aquatic resources as effectively as keeping a well-managed golf course green.
- "The golf industry has been very proactive in wildlife habitat
exemplified by the fact that nearly half of all golf courses increased
their acreage of native-natural-unmowed areas by an average of ten acres
between 1996 and 2005.
- The acreage of non-turfgrass landscapes on golf courses are
substantial and can make an important contribution to green space and
wildlife habitats for communities.
- Non-turfgrass landscapes on 18-hole golf courses include an average
of 35 acres dedicated to forests, wetlands, ponds, streams or other
- Golf courses have an average of 11 acres of water bodies (lakes,
ponds, wetlands, streams), nearly double the amount of the acreage of
greens and tees."
Recreation & Open Space
Many local governments set a goal of 10 acres of park,
recreation and other open space per 1,000 residents. With an average
area of 100 acres a typical golf course achieves the open space goal for a
population of 10,000. If your area
is running behind in meeting the goal then a powerful argument can be made
for preserving a golf course, particularly if other recreation activities
Following are some of the more common methods of preserving a golf course
threatened by development. Determining which strategy options are most
likely to succeed requires a bit of research. An example of how CEDS
researches preservation options can be view at:
Preservation Initial Strategy Analysis Example. For further detail
regarding how CEDS might perform a similar analysis for your effort contact
us at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org.
Also, visit our Strategy Analysis
Deed & Land Use Restrictions
It is not uncommon for deed restrictions or agreements
to exist which protect a golf course from being converted to other uses. So,
your first step in exploring preservation options should be a thorough title
search. In many states deeds and other land records are available
online. An hour or so of browsing could uncover restrictions.
However, the restrictions may be challenged by those seeking to develop a
While the number of golf courses is shrinking, this
should increase the profitability of the remaining courses. If the
owners of the course of concern to you claim that poor revenues are forcing
development, then options for increasing profitability should be considered.
Some of these options may be far easier to achieve with strong community
support, like tax breaks or converting a course from private to public.
Also, measures like improved marketing can increase cash flow. In one
CEDS effort to preserve a golf course we learned that improved online
marketing could increase revenue by up to 185%.
Zoning determines what uses can be made of any piece
of land, including a golf course. If a golf course is zoned for high
density development then ask your local elected officials to consider
downzoning. The fewer the number of homes allowed per acre the less
likely development becomes. For further detail see the
CEDS Zoning webpage.
The homes bordering a golf course can sell for
more than the same dwelling located elsewhere. This gives adjoining
homeowners a strong incentive to preserve the course. It may be
possible to come up with the funds needed to purchase the course by getting
these homeowners to pool their resources. It may also be possible to
interest various land preservation groups in joining in. The most
important role of these groups may be to take title to the golf course until
you and your neighbors can raise the necessary funds or secure a loan.
Don't overlook local or state park agencies as potential partners too. For further
advice see Chapter 16 Open
Space Preservation in the free CEDS book
How To Win Land Development
If the preceding options don't pan out then consider
working with the owner on partial development of the golf course.
Perhaps the owner can make as much profit on developing the course with ten
large-lot homes vs. 50 quarter-acre lots. Or maybe development can be
clustered on just 20% to 40% of the course leaving the rest green.
These are but a few of the many possible options.