State of Michigan's golf economy back on course for 2015

State's golf economy back on course By Ryan Felton: Special to Crain's Detroit Business

Despite its long winter season and a devastating economic collapse during the Great Recession, Michigan is a top state for golfers.

In 2000, 565 million rounds of golf were played across the nation, with Michigan accounting for a significant portion, one study found, as tourists flocked to its 951 public and private courses. The tally of the public courses alone was 799 that year.

But by the mid-2000s, as the auto industry slid into a steep decline, the state’s golf industry fell in tandem, said Kevin Frisch, CEO of Gaylord-based Fusion Media Strategies, a golf and travel marketing firm. By 2006, more than 110 courses shuttered, according to a separate study.

Over the past several years, however, the industry has slowly reclaimed lost ground. Frisch said that can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the rebound of the local economy. A recent change locally was the purchase last week of the Maple Lane Golf Club in Sterling Heights by Auburn Hills-based residential developer Moceri Cos.

In the graphic below*, average rounds played per course is up, year-over-year, and three new courses are under construction.

While a deep-dive study on the industry’s economic impact hasn’t been conducted since 2006, industry observers say the mainstay findings hold true: Golf supports about 57,000 jobs in the state and contributes $4.2 billion to the economy.

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