Golf’s decline strains South Florida real estate

January 16, 2012 03:00PM

Doral Golf Resort & Spa

Golf is on the decline across the country, and that’s putting a particular strain on communities built around golf resorts, USA Today reported, such as those in Miami and Palm Beach.

For years golf fanatics became second-home buyers in Florida, Arizona, California and Las Vegas upon retirement, spurring growth in local real estate markets.

But the number of golfers in the U.S. has fallen by 13 percent in the last five years, and the total number of golf rounds played in 2011 fell 3.5 percent from the year before, according to National Golf Foundation research. Golf memberships have fallen by one million since the early 1990s.

“We’re not getting replacements for those people,” said real estate analyst Lou Goodkin, president of Miami-based Goodkin Consulting. “There are fewer golfers, fewer people who can pay the high amounts to buy into a club. There’s going to be a lot more people out there that are challenged in their retirement years than we’ve had in the past.”

In some golf-centered communities, one-quarter of all homes for sale sit on golf courses and local clubs are bleeding money. Last year, Paulson & Co, a hedge fund that owns five golf resorts including the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami, filed for bankruptcy. One insider told USA Today that golf resorts are “entering a new normal.” [USA Today]