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February 2019

Ohio Investments are a Positive Sign

By Steve Eubanks

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not much. Troy, Ohio, a town of 25,000 people located 19 miles north of Dayton and an hour west of Columbus, is investing just over $1.2 million in its municipally-owned and operated Miami Shores Golf Course. The 6,700-square-foot clubhouse, which includes a restaurant, golf shop and restrooms, is undergoing a complete overhaul, while the driving range is also receiving a substantial upgrade.

None of this is earth shattering, but after more than a decade of industry contraction and an even longer history of municipal officials treating golf like a rotten turnip on the dinner table, any positive, forward-thinking golf investment by governments is refreshing.

Miami Shores was built in 1948 during golf’s post-World War II boom and the city has either owned or operated some portion of the 130-acre facility since its inception. This is the first major investment in the course in decades.

“Things are moving along really well,” said Miami Shores manager Kyler Booher. “I feel like everything is on time and on target.”

The project began in September and is scheduled for completion in March.

Troy isn’t the only Ohio municipality making investments in the game. Boone County, which sits in the southeast corner of the state and shares a larger border with both Indiana and Kentucky than with any other county in Ohio, has retained the Cincinnati investment firm of Ross, Sinclair & Associates to advise on the issuance of a $4.4 million bond. Those funds will be used to renovate the county’s two golf courses, Boone Links and Lassing Point.

“The broad goals of the improvements are to position our courses for long-term sustainability and success by improving our facilities and generating more non-golf revenue during winter months,” said Boone County administrator Jeff Earlywine.

In addition to much-needed cart path improvement, Earlywine said the capital would be used to increase and improve banquet facilities and add golf simulators to the clubhouses. A miniature golf course is also planned.

Both of these investments are a pittance in the overall picture of the game. But Ohio was one of the hardest hit states during the Great Recession. Over 3,500 factories closed in Ohio and opioid addiction reached epidemic levels. From 2005 to 2015, the number of golf courses in Jack Nicklaus’ home state fell from 426 to 373.

It is impossible to say whether or not these municipal investments portend a change in the game’s fortunes in the Midwest. But they are positive and welcome signs. 

Steve Eubanks is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and New York Times bestselling author.

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