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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

Questions, Answers and Insights for Everyone Interested in the Business of Golf

The ‘Q’uestion
August 2018

by Erik Matuszewski

August 2018

No other sport has the spatial requirements of golf.

The footprint for an 18-hole course, on average, exceeds 150 acres. So how much land (by acreage) in the contiguous U.S. is devoted to golf courses? 


Click image to open navigable PDF


Answer: Golf courses comprise about 2 million acres out of the 1.9 billion acres in the 48 contiguous states, which Bloomberg recently visually represented in the above land-use map. Golf, fittingly, is located where South Carolina is on the map.

Look closely and you’ll see the nation’s almost 14,800 golf facilities have a larger geographic footprint than industries like maple syrup, tobacco and flowers, while the collective golf course land is about two-thirds the size of that devoted to railroads or airports.

The Bloomberg study, which can be found here, divided the country into six different uses for land:

  • Pasture/Range (~ 34%)
  • Forest (~ 28%)
  • Cropland (~ 21%)
  • Special Use (~ 9%)
  • Urban (~ 4%)
  • Miscellaneous (~ 4%)

Golf courses land in the miscellaneous category, with rural residential properties. Also falling into this classification are marshes, deserts, cemeteries and other areas deemed “low economic value.”


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Erik Matuszewski

Erik is the Editorial Director for the NGF. Before joining the National Golf Foundation, he spent more than two decades with Bloomberg News, both as a writer and editor, with a focus on sports business and the golf industry. The New Jersey resident has also written about golf for outlets that include Forbes, LINKS and the Met Golfer.