Golf Course Architecture - Issue 74, October 2023

51 Photo: Lukas Michel/CDP The new Seven Mile Beach course in Tasmania, Australia, designed by Clayton, DeVries & Pont, is close to completion INDUSTRY GROWTH private clubs going in central and south Florida, several of which are standalone clubs with no development, except golf cottages or development completely separate from the course,” says golf architect Dana Fry, who lives in the area. “We [he and his partner Jason Straka] are heavily loaded with top-end projects not only in Florida, but also in South Carolina and Georgia to a lesser extent. There is also a lot of golf being planned in other warm weather states like Texas, and Arizona would be the same, if it were not for the shortage of water there.” Rob Collins, who is currently working on a reversible nine-hole course at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina, among many other projects – and like Coore is booked out for several years – says: “I think there has been a big shift in what people want in golf. I’ve witnessed it at Sweetens [Cove, the nine-hole course outside Chattanooga that made his reputation, and which he now co-owns and operates]. People are willing to search out and play compelling golf. It doesn’t matter where it is, and I don’t think we’ve begun to see the bottom of that movement. As regards Florida and other warm weather markets, I think Covid has radically shifted our society in ways we’ll still be learning about in 20-plus years from now. A lot of people are realising they don’t need to live where they work. Therefore, warmer climates are becoming increasingly popular and the demand for golf is nowhere near met in a place like south Florida. Especially given that almost all the golf down there is part of residential developments and not very compelling to this new breed of player. So, something that is new and thoughtful is going to be immensely popular and sought after.” Fry concurs: “Wealthy people are leaving a lot of northern states for better weather and a low-tax environment. Florida has over a thousand courses, but most are mediocre at best, so there is an obvious shortage of quality, high-end golf for these new residents. If rich people move south in numbers, and the few really good clubs are full, then there will be demand for high quality new places to play. It is a function of population movement combined with the increased interest in great golf that has been developing essentially since Sand Hills. There is lots of movement to Cabo in Mexico too, mostly the wealthy from western states like California, Washington and Colorado, so there are lots of golf, hotel and development projects going in there.” It may have taken 15 years, and the nature of the market has changed completely – there is not a huge swell of housing-based golf being built, though there are projects of that kind too – but golf development is on the up in a way not seen in some time.