kahn golf

Michael A (Mike) Kahn, Golf Business Consulting. Phone: 941.739.3990 Fax: 425.675.6909 Email: mike@golfmak.com

Original article (2010): The time may be ripe to buy fixer-upper golf courses -- whoops!
2014 - Think Again. We are not seeing a rebound in golf participation. I believe only golf course business experts should be investing in golf courses today.


(Be sure to review my Golf Course Buyer's Guide.)

For five years I've been warning about the financial pitfalls buying fixer-upper golf courses. However, many of these conditionally challenged properties have been on the market at "Where's the guy who fell off a turnip truck" prices. Not many intelligent buyers would touch them at those prices. With reality sinking in, many are now ready to sell at sensible prices. In my opinion, it's time to be bullish on fixer-uppers and financially challenged golf courses!

In 2010 I believe many fixer-uppers can now be highly profitable, because prices for these golf courses have come down significantly - some up to 75%. (Update: I'm seeing golf courses available for less than $1.5 million worth close to $3.5 million only 3 years ago.)

NOTE: COURSE CLOSINGS MEAN BETTER OPPORTUNITIES: It's been reported there was a net drop in golf courses in the USA in 2007 and 2008. Closed golf courses release rounds of play - a benefit to those still in business. I predict many more. Buying a golf course now, while prices are still down could be a good decision.

No longer money pits! Now they can be opportunities!

If you can buy right, fixer-upper golf course can be opportunities. Many run down golf courses can be acquired for as little as 20 cents on the dollar. Some can be bought for less than 1/2 their appraised value of just a few years ago.

Fixer uppers I've seen usually have, more or less, the problems listed below. Most are due to apathy - ownership tired of fighting banks, old members, roots, city hall, mole crickets, environmental pressures, etc.

  • Refrigeration
  • Irrigation
  • Air conditioning
  • Drainage
  • Roof
  • Cart paths - often from protruding tree roots
  • Pot holes in parking lot
  • Old grasses on greens
  • Old machinery
  • Personnel needs overhaul
  • Floors
  • Non-conforming rest rooms,
  • Non-conforming kitchen
  • No fire prevention system
  • Non-conforming fuel storage
  • Mildew
  • Non-conforming entry (not disabled-friendly)
  • Big old trees interfering with play, disrupting irrigation, or dangerous
  • Nearby competition has better greens, tees, fairways, etc.

Most of these golf course properties need new blood. They need new ownership with fresh ideas, enthusiasm, fresh capitol, even completely new personnel in all positions.


Prices for fixer-upper golf courses have come down significantly. Golf courses marketed two years ago for $4.2 million can be acquired for less than $3 million in 2005. We've seen some courses drop in price by over 75% since 2003. However, most will need from $1/2 to $1 million in refurbishment and deferred maintenance.

Here's a couple of examples. I cannot name these properties or their locations, but both are available at Prime Sites USA, Brokerage, Golf Course Sales Division. The first is an 18-hole, 7000-yard plus, top-line championship golf course, once worth over $6.5 million - available for $3.5 million.

The first sample fixer-upper golf course needs a new irrigation system. The clubhouse needs decorating and landscaping. The parking lot needs repairs and a new cap. Meanwhile, the business needs 'new owner' energy to rejuvenate market share and player loyalty. The reward (in my opinion) is a business with serious potential earnings - $500 to $600K based on $2 million plus in sales.


Irrigation replacement
Clubhouse face lift
$ 50,000
Parking lot cap
$ 50,000
Total cost to acquire and bring this sample to competitive condition is estimated at $4.2 million.

The Second fixer-upper is a 36-hole, top-line golf club with a full service clubhouse, swimming pool, tennis center, fitness center, practice range, practice green with a combined replacement value estimated at close to $10 million. You can buy it today for $3.5 million - 35-cents on the dollar!

This golf course property once had over 650 members, and over $3 million in annual sales. Refurbishments and face-lifts for this one might require around the same capitol budget as the first sample one shown above. Total cost including acquisition price and capitol = $4.2 million. In our opinion, this golf course is capable of earning a net of close to $1 million.

2010 could be the year for fixer-upper opportunities.

If you think you're ready, call me: 941-739-3990

or Email: mike@golfmak.com