Arizona’s golf industry made a total estimated economic contribution of $3.9 billion in sales to the state economy in 2014, according to a study released last month by the University of Arizona.
And golf facilities generated a $1.1 billion profit for their owners, it adds.
The study, partially funded by several golf resorts and golf associations in the state, is the first of its kind in more than 10 years.
For Ahwatukee, where one of its four courses has been closed since 2013 and another is troubled, the study contains a stunning disclosure: “Residential real estate premiums associated with all homes ever built in golf course communities in Arizona were estimated to be nearly $2.1 billion.”
Homeowners in both Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Club and Club West have contended that those premiums are an important part of the value of their homes and that it’s been adversely affected in recent years. The Lakes course was closed in 2013 and is now basically dirt while Club West’s HOA board is suing owner Wilson Gee for failing to provide enough water and maintenance to maintain the course properly.
The U of A study said the total golf industry contribution to Arizona’s economy in 2014 can be broken down into: $2.5 billion from course operations, $1.1 billion from tourism and $347 million from golf-related businesses.
“Golf is an important part of Arizona’s economy and a defining component of the physical landscape of many of its cities and towns,” it states. “The golf industry supports jobs and incomes for the state economy, indirectly supports others.”
The study goes beyond data maintained by government agencies, which usually rely only on reports from country clubs and public courses.
“To rely only on statistics for golf courses and country clubs would significantly underrepresent the extent of the industry in the state, considering that many golf courses in Arizona are attached to resort properties,” it states.
The study acknowledges the impact of the 2008 recession on the industry, as well as the impact of overbuilding of golf courses in the 1980s and 1990s.
It said that 17 golf facilities closed in Arizona between 2004 and 2014. But at the same time, 19 new facilities were built in the state for a net gain of two.
“This is not including facilities that have undergone significant renovations, closed and reopened, or transferred ownership since that time,” the study says.
The industry was responsible for creating and maintained a total 18,700 full and part-time jobs in 2014.
The study also looked at water consumption by courses and said, “Overall there was a net increase in water use from all sources between 2004 and 2014.”
The study is based on a survey of 313 golf facilities in Arizona and is the first comprehensive look at the state’s golf industry since 2004.
It says an estimated 11,573,579 rounds of golf were played in Arizona in 2014. Of that, 7,678,120 were rounds played by members of private or semi-private facilities.
“Results indicate that roughly two-thirds of rounds are played by Arizona golfers, including seasonal residents,” it adds. “Roughly a quarter are played by visitors from other states, and the remainder (8 percent) are played by international visitors.”