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Golf in Boca Raton

by Ian MacDougall

Without Data You’re Just Another Person With an Opinion

From research scientist Parker Anderson’s “The Definition of Sustainable Golf

A city council meeting to discuss the disbursement of funds garnered by the sale of the Boca Raton Municipal course has yet to be scheduled.

These funds, which will amount to roughly $65M, are currently in limbo and that has residents asking – how much will go towards our new course Boca National?

There’s a growing concern that the $65M will be used exclusively to finance a new city campus. (Whether or not this facility would include a private bathroom for the Mayor is uncertain).

I reached out to Jessica Del Vecchio in city hall to determine whether the city has ever researched the ‘macro impacts’ of golf on our economy. Jessica was responsive and eager to help but informed me that no such research has been conducted, and so we have no data beyond the obvious – rounds played etc.

The golf industry is largely misunderstood by most elected officials and their longstanding perceptions of the game probably don’t square with the data. As the saying goes “don’t confuse us with facts when we’re about to make a decision”

Contrary to popular belief reports of golf’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

Forbes reported that in 2017, for the fourth straight year golf welcomed a record number of first-time players, with the 2.6 million beginners eclipsing the numbers set when Tiger Woods was in his prime and single handedly drew a wealth of newcomers to the game.

This is just one of several positive indicators detailed in the National Golf Foundation’s Golf Industry Report. The NGF report is a comprehensive state-of-the-industry overview that compiles many of golf’s key data points in a single publication to provide a holistic view of the game.

Economic impact of golf on the U.S economy

Additionally, in 2017, WE ARE GOLF a coalition of the game’s leading associations and industry partners – unveiled its new U.S. Golf Economy:

Highlights from the study:

  • $84.1 billion in activity directly driven by golf in 2016, a 22% rise from $68.8B in the 2011 report.
  • The industry supported $191.9B in total annual activity, including 1.89 million jobs and $58.7B in wages and benefits.

Golf’s annual contributions to America’s economy also include:

  • $34.4B in revenue from golf courses, clubs, resorts, driving ranges and other facilities (2.9% compound annual growth since 2011)
  • $25.7B in tourism spending (4.6% CAGR)
  • $7.2B in new home construction in golf communities (18.5% CAGR)
  • $6B in sales of golf equipment, apparel and supplies (1.4% CAGR)
  • $2.4B in professional tournaments, associations and player endorsements (3.16% CAGR)
  • $1.9B in investment in existing golf facilities (4.6% CAGR) 

Economic impact of golf on the Florida economy

With 1,103 courses, 524 golf communities, and numerous championship golf events, golf in Florida is a key industry contributing to the vitality of local communities and the state economy. According to WE ARE GOLF, in 2013, the size of Florida’s direct golf economy was approximately $8.2 billion, making it comparable in size to other important industries in the state, including hotels and motels ($14.2 billion), agricultural products ($8.3 billion), medical equipment and supplies manufacturing ($6.5 billion), and amusement and theme parks ($5.4). 

Golf brings visitors to the state, drives new construction and residential development, generates retail sales, and creates demand for a myriad of goods and services. When the total economic impact of these golf-related activities is considered, Florida’s golf industry supported approximately $11.0 billion of total economic impact, over 132,000 jobs, and $3.6 billion of wage income. 

Economic impact of golf on the Boca Raton economy

The demand drivers for golf in Boca Raton are robust:

  • Growing resident and seasonal resident population with demographics that are predictive of strong golf demand. 
  • Strong and diversified local economy, with low unemployment. 
  • Year-round golf climate, with little inventory lost to weather. 
  • High volume of tourists and business travelers to supplement demand from area residents

Although Boca Raton faces strong competition from 16 other public courses within a 10-mile radius of the city – Boca Muni is managed as if it were a monopoly. No marketing or promotion. No organized events to encourage participation and stimulate demand.  No obvious support for The First Tee, a youth program that instills life-enhancing values (honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, perseverance, courtesy and judgment) through the game of golf. 


  • Future Economic Impact of a new city campus – zero.
  • Future Economic impact of Boca National Golf Club – unknown but certain to be positive.

BocaFirst.org will post the date of this important council meeting when it becomes available.

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