Why the Golf Course Closed

To prevent a total financial collapse of the entire 223-acre property, the difficult but necessary decision was made to permanently close the money-losing golf course at the end of the 2016 playing season.

It has been suggested that golf operations be retained or resumed. It is not in the financial interest of taxpayers to subsidize a private golf course and there is no viable financial path to reopening the golf course. Taxpayers should not fall into debt to buy a failed golf course. 

Course History

The Indian Lakes golf course was developed in the 1960’s and expanded over time. A clubhouse was added and at one point, the course featured 36-holes.

In 2007, a major renovation of the entire resort property was completed to convert to the standards of a Hilton resort. Nearly 25% of the entire investment was made on the golf course, which included reconfiguration of the course, the addition of an island green and creation of the driving range.

While well intended, this investment did not improve the course’s operations. During the last five years of its operation, utilization at the Indian Lakes golf course averaged just 30 percent as interest from the public continued to fade away consistent with the downturn in golf and oversupply of courses in the region. As a result, the Indian Lakes golf course was losing approximately $1 million annually.

“…[A]s courses fall into disuse, they become suburban zombies—not quite dead, yet far from alive.”

Bloomberg, Aug.15, 2016, America’s Golf Courses Are Burning

“..Golf clubs are going dark around Chicago amid the worst meltdown the sport has faced since the Great Depression. As the volume of play has sunk—down 20 percent or more in many places—harried course owners have had to discount their prices, sending revenue in some places into free-fall. Experts are predicting that 10 percent or more of the 450 public courses in Illinois could be shuttered before supply and demand come into profitable balance again.”

Crain’s Chicago Business, September 5, 2015, Golf is dying. So what happens to all those courses?

“It’s tough to make the local math work better in golf’s favor. In 1985, there were 28 golf courses within an 18-mile drive of Pottawatomie Golf Course in St. Charles, and today there are 51, said Pottawatomie pro Ron Skubisz. ‘But golf participation is back down to 1990 levels, so it’s at a saturation point now with the number of courses,’ Skubisz said.”

Daily Herald, April 25, 2015, Recession takes toll on local golf

“…Increasingly, suburban Chicago’s golf clubs feature brown and bumpy turf, empty swimming pools, shabby clubhouses and even for-sale signs… ‘The local marketplace is oversaturated with too many golf courses,’ says Todd Marsh, general manager of Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest and former president of the Greater Chicago Club Managers Association. ‘Not all of them are going to make it through this.’…”

Crain’s Chicago Business, Sep. 8, 2012, Ryder Cup reality check: Suburban golf courses languish

Decades ago a full-service golf and conference center resort in suburban Chicago was a viable business. By 2016, the financial performance of the golf course was driving the entire property to the brink of financial collapse.

The course was competing for business against newer, more desirable warm weather and exotic destinations across the country and was challenged by the drastic decline in the golf industry.

The pressures on the Indian Lakes property are the same confronting golf courses across the country. Over the past decade, more than 800 golf courses have closed across the country as golf has declined in popularity. In 2014 Bryant Gumble declared, “A golf course closes somewhere in America every 48 hours.”

In the Chicago region, numerous public and private courses have been closed or are in the process of being shuttered.

When a golf course closes, it creates uncertainty in the surrounding real estate market. Landscape maintenance shifts away from the standards of a golf course to that of vacant property.

Closed courses that have sat vacant for an extended period of time have become safety hazards, attracting vandals, and sometimes crime. Several have even caught on fire.