golf

South Florida golf courses feel economic pinch

 

Special to the Miami Herald

For golfers, it’s sad, but it seems to keep happening.

More and more, golf courses are shuttering their doors. In addition to that, few new courses — if any in South Florida — are being built.

The most recent course in South Florida to shut down is Deerfield Country Club, which had been in existence for 52 years. In late March, a sentimental sign was hung at Deerfield saying, “A Farewell Salute to Deerfield Country Club. Thanks for the Memories.”

The memories were apparently extremely good. The course was known for its friendliness — friendly golfers, friendly staff and even the holes were friendly, not being too long since it was a shorter executive course.

Two years ago, Calusa Country Club in Miami-Dade County was closed with a much less friendly sign: “No Trespassing. Private Property” hung from the locked gates at that course. Calusa’s owner, the famed Bacardi rum family, wanted to develop the property into an assisted living facility. Homeowners, by contractual means, refused to let that take place, and to this day the course sits there with overgrown foliage being its main landmark.

Unfortunately, the basic fact of running a golf course is that it is difficult for them to make money. Most courses need the help of the surrounding city, community, municipality or some other source to just make par in the money department.

The exception might be Donald Trump and the Blue Monster and the other courses at Trump National Doral. Trump sank his own money into purchasing the entire spa property and then splurged on a major revamping of the courses, including most famously toughening up the Blue Monster.

The Blue Monster is a premium course, but playing it also can cost a premium price — around $500 at certain times of the year.

BARRY PREPARES

The Barry men’s and women’s teams have been wearing out the practice range in preparation for the upcoming Division II national championships.

The women play Wednesday through Saturday at the 5,928-yard, par-71 course at Rock Barn Golf & Spa in Conover, N.C.

The Barry women have advanced to the NCAA tournament 10 times in the past 12 years. They were second in 2002, fourth in 2012 and third in 2013. This year’s team is coached by Shannon Sykora and boasts last season’s individual national champion in Nancy Vergara, a junior.

The men’s tournament runs May 19-23 at The Meadows Course (par 71 and 7,043 yard) in Allendale, Mich.

Coach Jimmy Stobs’ team is ranked No. 1 in the nation and will be trying to repeat as national champion. If they win, it would be Barry’s third men’s golf national title.

The format is three days of stroke play followed by match-play competition.

Leading Barry is the nation’s top-ranked Division II player, Adam Svensson. This season, Svensson has won a school-record seven individual tournament titles. In addition, Barry won a school-record seven titles when it won the South/Southeast Super Regional.

“The team finally caught up with Svensson,” Stobs said.

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