The attractiveness of a city is measured not by one outstanding feature but by the sum of its parts. Schools, hospitals, emergency services, cultural offerings and recreational opportunities, including parks and golf courses, are things that people consider before deciding to move to a new city. We are fortunate to score well in all of those categories and despite the high cost of operating the city’s golf course, it is a vital attraction in the mix of our other attributes.
A story about the recent public meeting on city parks reported that Uvalde Memorial Golf Course operates on an annual budget of $688,000, which is more than the $611,000 allocated for the city’s other 10 parks combined. At least one citizen at last Tuesday’s meeting questioned the wisdom of spending so much for golf.
It is a fair question and the answer has to be somewhat subjective for the simple reason that we do not know how many people would not visit our city or decline to live here if a golf course were not part of the mix. We do know that the golf course generates significant income, approximately $365,000 per year.
We also know that the golf industry has been in decline in recent years but even with that the National Golf Foundation reports the industry has had five straight years with more than 2 million beginners. By comparison, there were 1.5 million beginners in 2011. Prior to the past two years, the previous recorded high of 2.4 million was set in 2000 when Tiger Woods was at the height of his popularity.
According to the NGF, the category of young adults (18-34 years olds) is the sports biggest customer age segment, with 6.1 million on-course participants. Interest in playing among non-golfing young adults is also high, with more than 5.3 million saying they are “very interested” in taking up the game.
At the other end of the spectrum, the number of golfers age 65-and-over increased almost 17 percent to 4.2 million in 2018, a reflection of the growing number of Baby Boomers who are retiring.
In short, golf is not going away anytime soon, and Uvalde Memorial Golf Course is a challenging, well-maintained and highly attractive venue for local and visiting golfers – young and old alike. City officials should do everything within reason to ensure that the course remains a healthy and attractive option for recreation now and in the future.