Municipalities have some advantages in owning golf courses: most are located in the urban areas where demand exceeds supply, some have historic layouts, and nearly all are under less economic pressure to generate a profit sufficient to fund capital improvements.
However, the organizational structure in which they are governed by a City Council, the bureaucracy they face in purchasing, and the excessive fringe benefits often paid exceeding 40% of base salary, render the operation of a municipal golf course an anachronism. Nearly all would realize higher net income if operated by private firms.
The sole justification for the continued operation of a municipal golf course by City employees is to provide a quality of life to the community subsidized by the General Fund rather than an Enterprise Fund.
The impressive study by Ingram, Hoke & Meyer presents conclusive evidence that the direct negative economic impacts of municipal golf courses suggest great caution should be exercised by any municipality considering the purchase or construction of a golf course.
To download the study, city-muni-golf-courses_ingram-002. Download