Few people truly understand the difference between public and municipal golf courses. It is understandable because the actual terms are somewhat intertwined.
Generally, municipal courses are owned by a local municipality like a city, town, or county. Public courses may be owned by individuals, businesses, or a combination of the two.
- Municipal courses are usually operated by the governmental agency to give local golfers a place to enjoy the game. Profit is not usually a big consideration.
- Public courses that are not municipal courses usually try to make a profit from the courses much like private clubs do.
- Public and municipal courses are open to just about everyone who can pay to play.
The great thing about many public courses is that they are becoming more popular locations for large tournaments.
Many PGA events have been played on public courses, and the number of tournaments that will be played on these courses continues to increase.
Some golf enthusiasts believe that this is a great way to keep more people involved in the game and increase revenue for the support and the local communities.
Weekend hackers and club pros will have the opportunity to compare their scores against the best players in the world. Some municipal courses are also on the slate for upcoming tournaments.
Declining Number of Courses
The unfortunate part of the situation is that the owners of many public courses are not turning a profit. This is the largest reason why the number of courses have been declining in recent years.
Course owners are looking for alternative ways to raise capital. If the capital cannot be raised and other sellers cannot be found, the course owners may be forced to close the course.
Revenue and Profit
Public municipal courses usually have to make enough money to just pay the bills. When the number of golfers decrease so does the revenue. To stay viable, the governmental agency may have to raise taxes.
This is not always the best way, and many taxpayers disagree with paying taxes to fund golf courses. Some municipalities, like public course owners, may have to seek a buyer or be forced to close the course for good.
Most municipal courses offer lower fees and better tee times for residents. This is one reason why many municipal courses have survived the decline in golfers, and public courses have closed. As with most things in life, money has a lot to do with the success or failure of a business.
To stay profitable, many public course superintendents have gone to great lengths to improve the respect of all golfers. Owners are starting to employ the same strategies that many private clubs do.
Some of these golf course management improvements include:
- Mowers pausing during swings and putts
- Offering professional instruction
- Choosing top-of-the-line equipment
The owners of public courses must find efficient ways to make money to compete with municipal and private clubs in the future, or even fewer courses will exist.