What’s the future of Detroit’s golf courses? City eyes massive repairs.

The municipal course has been managed by Golf Detroit since late March.

Article by Kat Stafford, Detroit Free Press FREEP.COM (April 2, 2018)

A new two-year operating contract approved by City Council last month may have staved off the closure of Detroit’s golf courses, but one lingering question remains: Is there a long-term future for golf in the city?

All four courses are in need of significant repairs — with estimates of between $5.9 million and $8.6 million for basic repairs at just Chandler Park, Rackham and Rouge Park. The fourth course, Palmer Park, is in much steeper decline and could be turned into a driving range.

On the high end, up to $18 million is needed to do comprehensive upgrades, according to a 152-page report completed late last year for the city by the National Golf Foundation. The suggested upgrades included a complete renovation of Rackham’s clubhouse, demolishing Rouge’s existing clubhouse to build a new one overlooking the river, a basic fix-up at Chandler and building a new golf learning support building at Palmer Park. The city for now is focused on only bringing the courses up to industry standards with basic repairs.

A chief concern also is whether the city might sell some of the courses, specifically Rackham, which is located in Huntington Woods and is one of the most popular courses in metro Detroit. The lingering concern stems from a previous attempt by the city to sell the course in 2006 to a private developer.

The city says it remains committed.

“Does golf have a future past this contract? I would say yes,” said Brad Dick, Detroit’s General Services Department director. “The future is good. People are there and want to play.”

Rackham Golf Course accounts for a little more than $1 million, or about 49%, of total revenue for all four courses and essentially supports the other three, according to the National Golf Foundation report.

Designed by famed golf architect Donald Ross, the course includes a historic clubhouse building that is currently in disrepair and mostly unused. Despite its condition, the course, according to the report, is among metro Detroit’s market leaders in terms of rounds, ranking slightly behind Troy’s Sylvan Glen golf course, with a reported 42,000 rounds in 2016. Sylvan had 44,000 rounds in 2016.