The National Golf Foundation reports that there was negative net growth in golf facilities in 2006 for the first time in six decades. According to the NGF 146 18-hole equivalent courses closed during the year, well above the 119.5 courses that opened. The NGF does not view this as an 'alarming occurrence,' but rather as the result of a confluence of events, specifically, openings returning to more normal levels and weaker facilities being culled.
In the late 1980s, the number of openings was about 100 per year. There followed a wave of increased construction in the 1990s that peaked in 2000 with nearly 400 openings. Since then, the wave has subsided to near historic levels.
NGF recorded a 56% jump in the number of closures between 2005 and 2006, from 93.5 to 146. These 146 closures represent about 1% of the total supply of golf courses in the U.S. Closures were primarily public (97%). They were disproportionately short courses (executive and par-3) 20% were short courses vs. 8% of total facilities. And, they were disproportionately stand-alone 9-holers, 46% vs. 28% of total facilities. Closures were predominately values courses, with nearly half having peak green fees under $25. Closures occurred in 39 of 50 states.