Travelin' Joe: It's Natural When Courses Close, But Some Are Missed More Than Others

Thursday January 23rd, 2014

tropicana Travelin' Joe has fond memories of the Tropicana Course in Las Vegas, even though it wasn't a great track. (EarlyVegas.com)


In 2013, course closures in the United States outnumbered course openings 157.5 to 14, according to a sobering report released by the National Golf Foundation.
The NGF noted that closings outpaced openings for the eighth consecutive year: “The overall reduction in supply is a gradual, natural market correction of the existing imbalance of supply and demand. Since the market correction began in 2006, there has been a drop of about 4 percent off the peak supply year of 2005. However, the cumulative decline over that period should be considered in context. Over the 20-year period from 1986 to 2005, U.S. golf grew by more than 40 percent, as more than 4,500 new courses were added.”
It’s pretty simple: Supply exceeds demand, so products disappear. It’s nature’s way, but some course closings hurt worse than others.
The very first course I ever played, Locust Grove, a nine-hole par-3 layout in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, was ripped up several years ago. It was the perfect place to learn the game as a kid. We need more of these places, not fewer.
It’s tough, too, when a perfectly good -- or even great -- course loses the battle. I think of High Point in Michigan, significant not only because it was Tom Doak’s first solo design, but because it was a terrific track, one that once cracked Golf Magazine’s Top 100.
One of my favorite mixed memories revolves around playing the old Tropicana course in Las Vegas. Sometime around 1989-1990, my dad and I knocked it around during its final week of life. It wasn’t a great course, but its mature trees and amazing location right on the Strip gave it real character. Today, the MGM Grand sits on that spot.
I hate to see any quality course close its doors, but that is the way of things. We’re overbuilt, and the law of supply and demand dictates that some golf courses cannot survive.
PHOTO GALLERY: Travelin' Joe's 2014 Course Wish List INTERACTIVE: How Many of the Top 100 Courses Have You Played?
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