Rounds of golf played at BREC’s six courses in 2018 remained relatively flat compared to rounds played in 2017, dropping 0.8%.
In all, 111,374 rounds of golf were played on BREC courses in 2018, down 903 rounds from the 112,277 played in 2017, according to a BREC golf report.
The busiest course, Santa Maria, saw a 6% drop in rounds, though the course is still performing well with a total of 33,345 rounds played, by far the most of the six parks. Meanwhile, Beaver Creek in Zachary and Webb Park in Baton Rouge both saw slight increases in rounds played, up 5% and 6%, respectively.
The City Park course saw the steepest decline at 12.5%, though BREC Golf Director Mike Raby attributes the drop, in part, to work done on the course last year, including adding cart paths and closing the third hole in June and July to regrass the fairway.
The Dumas course in Baker saw a 2% decline in rounds played, while J.S. Clark had a slight 1% uptick. Both parks are near the zoo in north Baton Rouge and had the lowest amount of rounds played relative to the other courses their size.
Dumas—an 18-hole course—had just 12,134 rounds played in 2018, far fewer than the other 18-hole courses in the BREC system. J.S. Clark—a 9-hole tract—had 3,518 rounds played, while the other 9-hole course, City Park, had 9,131 rounds played.
Heavy rain at the beginning and end of 2018 slowed BREC golf activity, Raby says. November alone, for instance, was down 34%. January and February of 2018 saw sharp declines as well. But the summer months were up.
“We did real well May through August,” he says. “We had solid play during the summer and thought we would end the year up.”
Golf demand, however, has been flat in recent years, following steep declines in activity in 2015 and 2016, the year of the August flood. And BREC has been making moves to curtail revenue losses on golf, including the repurposing of the former seventh golf course, Howell Park.
In a 2014 report, the National Golf Foundation said BREC had too many golf courses, Raby says. The parks department has closed the Howell course since then, but BREC is still considering what other changes may need to be made.
“Right now, we’re stable,” Raby says. “But we’re still evaluating if we have the right number of holes. The jury is still out.”
The National Golf Foundation report noted low levels of play at the Dumas and J.S. Clark courses, Raby adds, and recommended considering whether BREC needs all 27 holes at those facilities.