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NRPA in Action >> Golf

Municipal golf

2012-06-01, Department, by Richard Singer

In working as a consultant primarily serving municipal golf courses, I learned that preserving the economic health of these vital community assets has become a constant challenge.  I find more and more that the very existence of municipal golf courses is being threatened due to government budget challenges. All too often I hear the refrain, “Why are we in the golf business at all?”

Municipal golf is very much a part of our industry and a key component to the overall health of golf in the United States. How many golfers would there be today without municipal golf?

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A good start to address some of the issues confronting the decade-old shift in the golf industry--from an economic asset to a potential economic liability. In most instances, golf facilities are still more financially viable than other park, recreation and cultural land uses that have little or no income ability whatsoever. Public agencies who are still self-operating golf facilities and using tax dollars to subsidize their operation and maintenance--or simply want to achieve a better return on investment and improve tax dollar stewardship--should strongly consider contracting for services with a professional golf management company. Through outsourcing, a new opportunity for increased public access, enhanced customer service, more play, a positive cash flow, new capital development and improved bond rating may exist.