Bowling Green State University University announced this morning that it will close its Forrest Creason golf course at the end of the 2017 season. The University determined that the course cannot reverse more than a decade of declining revenues and a mounting operating deficit given the northwest Ohio golf market and national trends.
“This is not a decision we took lightly,” said University spokesman Dave Kielmeyer in this mornings statement. “We hired a consultant, developed a study and closely reviewed our options. Even with significant investment to make the course more competitive, it is unlikely that Forrest Creason could be a break-even operation. In today’s higher education environment, we simply can’t ask our students to continue to subsidize the golf course.”
Kielmeyer later in an interview said the university lost $120,000 on the golf course in the past year, an expense that has been steadily climbing for the past decade. Usage is also down significantly.
With the golf industry taking a hit nationally, it no longer “made any sense” for BGSU to operate a course.
The university does not have any firm plans about how the land the course sits on will be used. “We want to get the community involved in the discussion,” Kielmeyer said. That discussion will likely begin in fall.
The statement issued by the Office of Marketing & Communications continued:
The University study identified the need for significant capital investments to address shortcomings at the course to make it more marketable. Challenges identified include an inadequate clubhouse, no outdoor shelter facilities, no banquet facility or food service, and the need for a new irrigation system.
BGSU undertook the study as part of its response to Governor John Kasich’s Ohio Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency in higher education and House Bill 64, which requires public universities to assess non-core assets to find efficiencies and identify opportunities to lower costs for students.
Kent State University also opted to close its golf course in 2016.
There are currently three golf courses in the city of Bowling Green and four more within 10 miles. The study points out that golf’s popularity is declining nationally, particularly among college-age millennials.
BGSU’s varsity golf teams practice at Forrest Creason but do not compete there because of the course’s length, slope and rating.
Forrest Creason will remain open for play through December of 2017. The course’s four full-time employees will join BGSU campus operations staff. University staff will work with Forrest Creason golf leagues and organizers of annual outings to assist in finding new locations for the 2018 season.
Forrest Creason opened as a nine-hole course in 1965. An additional nine holes were added in 1973. In the 2000s, the course lost more than 150 trees to the emerald ash borer.
The University will be reviewing options for the site and will be seeking input from students, faculty, staff and members of the community on future uses of the land in the coming months.