Golf Course Spotlight

With over 16,000 golf courses in North America, there’s a simple response to the question, “Are there any golf courses near me?” Probably, but it depends where you live.

The State of Florida boasts over 1,400 golf courses, the most in the United States, while Alaska offers just 23, which is the fewest. Rhode Island has only 56 golf courses within its boundaries, but they actually have the most courses per square mile.

North Dakota isn’t typically mentioned among the golf hotbeds, but it surprisingly offers one course for every 5,468 residents, which is the lowest ratio in the country. Despite having 1,140 courses, the State of California has one golf course for every 32,679 people. That is the highest ratio – even larger than Alaska.

Where you live has a lot to do with golf course availability. However, the length of the golf season also plays a large role in how much golf can be played. Warm weather states such as Florida, California and Arizona attract “snowbirds” from the colder climates where the golf season can be much shorter.

For example, if you live in the Midwest, a typical golf season begins around April 1 and ends around November 1. Obviously, these dates can fluctuate greatly, but they do coincide with the schedule for Major League Baseball.

Baseball often suffers the same effect as golf when the weather turns as both are “stick and ball” sports that rely on warm temperatures for both the competitors and their fans. Unlike baseball, which can be played in a climate controlled dome, golf is pretty much relegated to the impact of Mother Nature.

The time crunch for golf in cold weather states places a premium on accessibility and playability for their golf courses. Each extra day a course can stay open during the months of November, December, January, February and March is basically “found money” in the Northern climates.

Golf courses superintendents have different challenges based on their geographic location. Courses in cold weather climates typically look to aerate their greens in the fall, towards the end of the season. Aeration is an important part of keeping a health root and overall turf structure in place. However, it can wreak havoc on how putts roll.

Warm weather courses in Florida and California have to manage play throughout a potential 12-month season. This basically means their courses may not experience much downtime for the course and its turf to heal. This challenge means superintendents must be creative with how they use their tee boxes and pin placements to maximize the full breadth and depth of the course, hopefully staggering wear and tear on their turf.