Why Is Westridge Golf Club Closing?
The owner of Westridge Golf Club wasn’t alone in considering closing the golf course and selling the property. Since 2010, more than 600 golf clubs have closed nationwide.
According to national figures, golf reached the height of its popularity in 2013, when 20.5 million golfers hit the links. Since then, the number of players and the number of rounds of golf have dropped every year, as more than seven million golfers left the game.
Orange County mirrored the national surge in new golf courses from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, as the number of golf courses in the County grew by 45 percent while its population grew by only 15 percent. Westridge, which opened in 1999, was part of this move towards an over-saturation in local golf courses.
A study for CalAtlantic Homessm by Pro Forma Advisors found:
“The industry problems go well beyond current economic conditions, as there appear to be fundamental shifts in recreational preferences and other underlying factors affecting long-term demand for golf…. There has been little improvement, if any, in golf market conditions over the past several years, despite an improved economy, reduction in the inventory of facilities, and the initial impact of an aging Baby Boom population.”
Golf experts attribute the decline in golf’s popularity to changing times. Fewer people regularly have four or five hours of free time to play a round of golf. Many cities have closed municipal costs due to tighter budgets, just as more families are balancing their household budgets by reducing or eliminating expenditures on golf.
Seeing this trend, golf retailers have cut down on the amount of floor space they give the game. Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack told Time Magazine,
“We really don’t know what the bottom is in golf. We anticipated softness, but instead we saw significant decline. We underestimated how significant this decline would be.”
As the game’s popularity drops, the costs of operating a golf course have been rising. Most significant in California is the cost of water, which has gone up 20 percent since 2012 and is anticipated to increase by five percent annually into the future. Westridge Golf Club uses approximately 90 million gallons of potable (drinking) water every year.
Rancho La Habra is being proposed by CalAtlantic Homes, which was formed when two of the nation’s largest and most respected homebuilders, Standard Pacific Corp. and Ryland Group, combined in 2015. Rancho La Habra would be built on the site of Westridge Golf Club, which is slated for closure. It would keep nearly 60 percent of the site (approximately 89 acres) as parks, open space and trails, with 420 homes and a small commercial center on the remaining approximately 62 acres.
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