Naples Daily News – Printer-friendly story
Study: Naples-Marco tops national leaderboard for golf holes per capita
By AISLING SWIFT
Friday, March 8, 2013
COLLIER COUNTY — Naples’ self-proclaimed title of “Golf Capital of the World” was solidified this week, when it was ranked No. 1 nationally for its abundance of golf holes.
The Naples-Marco Island metropolitan statistical area, which also held the top spot last year, has 1,530 holes for a population of 324,424, meaning there were 212 people per hole, according to the report, Golf Facilities in the U.S. 2013.
The report, released this week by the National Golf Foundation, tracks 18-hole course equivalents. It ranked this area No. 1 for its private clubs, but No. 28 nationally for the 450 holes — 721 people per hole — offered at a handful of courses available to the public.
Myrtle Beach/North Myrtle Beach/Conway, S.C., came in second with a population per hole of 246, and Barnstable, Mass., was No. 3 at 313. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan statistical area, which includes Bonita Springs and Estero, ranked seventh, at 393 people per golf hole.
Collier County planning records show there are 91 public, private and semi-private courses. That’s partly a result of a development boom in luxury golf communities in the past two decades. Many are designed by top golf architects such as Robert von Hagge, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Several, including Pelican Marsh and Wyndermere Country Club, just finished multimillion-dollar club and course renovations.
“The developer surge that we saw 10 years ago brought on at least 10-to-15 18-hole equivalents” said Tary Kettle, president of The Link Related Companies, a club and hospitality consulting firm.
The plethora of courses has attracted three of the top national golf tours, as well as golf-related businesses, golfers and baby boomers.
Georgia-based Golf & Tennis Pro Shop opened its first Florida PGA Tour Superstore in North Naples in December 2009 and a year later, Texas-based GolfSmith, the nation’s largest golf retailer, opened its most technologically advanced and interactive superstore, Golfsmith Xtreme, nearby.
Realtor Matt Klinowski, a golf community expert at John R. Wood Realtors, has seen a surge of buyers targeting golf properties as overall interest in the area grows.
“As the baby boomers shift to retirement age, they are definitely coming down here to buy golf properties and second homes,” said Klinowski, who operates NaplesGolfGuy.com. “ They’re grabbing properties now because they think the timing is right and the prices are low.”
“Eighty percent of the buyers I’m working with right now are in the second property or vacation home category,” he added.
Florida, California, New York, Michigan, and Texas have the most holes for their populations, according to the national report, which lists 15,619 golf courses nationwide. In comparison, there were nearly 4,700 18-hole equivalents due to the large number of stand-alone nine-hole courses.
With the cost of golfing higher than most sports, the number of players is dwindling and other activities, such as walking, jogging and swimming are seeing increases, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers’ Association.
Last year was the seventh year golf course closures outpaced openings — about a dozen opened compared with more than 150 closures of 18-hole equivalents, according to the national report, which showed 199 under development.
In the past three to four years, Florida saw 15 to 20 closures, Kettle said, adding: “We’ve seen great weaknesses throughout the state of Florida.”
“Naples and Collier County have a greater degree of resiliency than the rest of the state,” he said. “The state of Florida is going to be at risk of more closures. We’re still at the oversupply stage. It would be great to see more youth involved.”