Miami Valley golf facilities had a good year; golf simulators growing fast too

Growth that started in 2020 COVID summer has stayed in place at many local courses

Many local public golf facilities had another good year in 2022, as the sport’s resurgent popularity during COVID continued to show staying power.

Many local courses saw more rounds played in 2022 than in pre-COVID years, and there’s been intense and growing interest in golf simulators and practice centers, with new ones likely coming to Greene Town Center and Capri Lanes bowling alley in Kettering.

Even golf courses that saw a drop in rounds in 2022 usually only saw a small decrease, on the heels of a record 2021 for many.

“We are very blessed with the number of public and private golf courses in our market, and the quality is exceptional, compared to so many other places in the country,” said Steve Jurick, executive director and CEO of Miami Valley Golf. “And if you look at what it costs to play a round of golf in the Miami Valley, it is still very, very affordable compared to other markets.”

In Miamisburg, golfers played about 45,900 rounds of golf last year at PipeStone Golf Club and 23,100 rounds at Mound Golf Course. Those numbers were up by about 2,000 at PipeStone and about 600 at Mound, compared to 2021.

The sport’s rate of growth at Miamisburg’s public facilities has slowed compared to earlier in the pandemic, but interest remains very high, said Ryan Davis, director of Miamisburg’s parks and recreation department.

Davis said he expects to see slower but continued growth, and pre-booked rounds already are up at Pipestone this year.

“At Pipestone, we anticipate we will sell out of memberships for the fourth consecutive year, and at Mound Golf Course are ahead of last year’s membership sales pace,” he said.

Dayton and Beavercreek

About 80,650 rounds of golf were played at Dayton’s Community Golf Club last year, which was a decrease of 3% from 2021 for the 36-hole, two-course facility.

Rounds played in 2022 at Community were down slightly due to a bunker renovation project that has now been completed, Dayton recreation officials said.

The roughly $360,000 project reduced the number of sand bunkers from 60 to 45, and the remaining ones were restructured and improved, officials said. The city also spent more than $96,000 replacing golf carts.

Dayton has received a lot of positive feedback about the bunker renovations, Stephan Marcellus, Dayton’s recreation manager, said late last year. New golf carts, better bunkers and future improvements will help Community remain a competitive facility, officials said.

“It went over very well — a lot of golfers were elated,” he said.

Community Golf Club, located at 2917 Berkley St. in Kettering, is the last city of Dayton-owned golf facility still in operation. The city closed its 54-hole Kittyhawk Golf Center and 18-hole Madden Golf Course in 2020.

Rounds played at Community have increased significantly compared to 2020 and to previous years, when Madden and Kittyhawk were still in operation.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Similar to Community, Beavercreek Golf Club saw a 2.4% decline in golf rounds from 2021. The 18-hole course just east of the Mall at Fairfield Commons dropped to about 31,160 rounds.

Even though rounds declined, Beavercreek was still up about 3.5% from 2020 and nearly 22% from 2019.

Golf remains extremely popular, and golf staff have seen renewed energy and excitement about the sport, said Steve Klick, director of operations at Beavercreek Golf Club.

Klick said it’s possible weather played a role in last year’s decrease.

Klick said the pandemic forced people to find new ways to safely spend time together, while socially distancing, and golf hit the mark.

“We believe people’s interest in golf will continue to grow, especially among youth and women,” he said.

Centerville

The Golf Club at Yankee Trace, a 27-hole facility in Centerville, set new records for golf rounds played in 2020 and 2021 (roughly 69,000 and 70,000 respectively).

Rounds played dropped to about 68,000 last year, but golf’s popularity has been strong in recent years, and people’s desire to be outdoors during the pandemic was the catalyst that made this happen, said Steve Marino, administrator of the Golf Club at Yankee Trace.

The Golf Club also has had three indoor golf simulators since 2019, and they are becoming increasingly popular and usually require a reservation to play, Marino said.

“The SIMS are especially popular for business events, small parties or individual practice,” he said. “Simulators have been around for a couple decades, but the technology has improved so much that the experience has become very authentic and realistic.”

Springboro

Heatherwoode Golf Club in Springboro also has several golf simulators. The first was acquired in 2020, and two more were purchased in December.

Golf simulators have seen explosive growth in popularity because golfers want to play and practice all year round but Ohio’s weather makes that difficult, said Chris Pozzuto, Springboro’s city manager.

Meanwhile, golfers played about 33,180 rounds at the 18-hole Heatherwoode course last year, which was down from 38,145 in 2021. But 2021 was a monster year, and golf rounds last year still were higher than in 2020 and 2019.

Jurick, with Miami Valley Golf, said his organization covers a 14-county area, and about 92 golf facilities call the area home, which includes learning centers.

Miami Valley Golf saw a 1.5% decrease in rounds posted as part of its active score season between mid-March and the end of November, compared to 2021, Jurick said.

But rounds posted were still up about 18% compared to 2019, and the state of the game is very healthy across the Miami Valley and the globe, Jurick said.

Simulators on the rise

Since 2004, about 15 local golf facilities have closed, a list that includes former favorites Larch Tree, Hidden Lake, Weatherwax and others, besides Kittyhawk and Madden. But some courses that closed in that span are being brought back to life, as Jasper Hills opened on the old Sebastian Hills site, and Graywolf Golf Club is operating on what was once the Moss Creek course.

Though the supply of traditional golf courses has decreased, golf simulators and practice centers are in very high demand and new ones continue to be added, Jurick said. Players don’t do traditional putting, but can play a simulated round faster.

NCR Country Club has opened an indoor golf studio with a Tru-Golf simulator that has 85 championship golf courses.

Meadowbrook at Clayton, Sugar Valley Golf Club in Bellbrook and Bairs Den Golf practice facility in Clayton all have golf simulators, as do some other local golf properties.

A business called Off Par Golf & Social is expected to open in the Greene Town Center early this year that will offer state-of-the-art golf simulators.

Capri Lanes in Kettering hopes to install four to five new golf simulators in the next year or two. A dozen lanes were removed to make space for a new bar and virtual golf.

Last year seemed very busy at Community Golf Club in Dayton, said Charlie Campbell, an 80-year-old local golfer.

“It was impossible to just show up ... you had to call a week before to reserve a tee time,” he said. “While some complain about this aspect, I assert it’s great news for the Community Golf (Club).”

Campbell said the group he plays with are a bunch of “old-timers,” but they’ve noticed that more young men and women seem to be playing at the public facility.

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