Hempfield’s Valley Green golf course slated to close by end of year
Golfers have a limited time to tee off at a Hempfield course before the doors are shut for good.
Valley Green Golf & Country Club, between Armbrust Brinkerton and Albrights Lake roads, will close by the end of the year, said owner Linda Rusnock. She attributed the decision to a dwindling number of golfers due to younger generations not taking up the sport and difficulty in finding seasonal help.
She said she isn’t sure of her plans for the land.
Still, golf carts pulled in and out of the parking lot last week, as golfers tucked their clubs between the seats next to them. A sign hanging on the door of the clubhouse reads, “All credit on the books must be redeemed by Dec. 31, 2019, or it will be forfeited.”
It was not immediately clear whether the restaurant and bar located on the property would remain open.
Valley Green is not the only course that has struggled in recent years. Citing a study by Pellucid Corp., a company focused on golf business solutions and data analysis, CityLab reported the number of golfers across the country fell from 30 million to 20.9 million between 2002 and 2016.
The National Golf Foundation discovered in April that the rounds of golf played in 2018 dropped almost 5%.
In the same time frame, almost 200 courses closed and only about 12 new 18-hole equivalent golf courses opened — a declining trend seen since 2006, which marked the end of a 20-year building boom when 4,000 courses opened across the country.
“It is true that the number of courses being built now is not equal to the number of golf courses closing, but our area’s been pretty good that way,” said Terry Teasdale, executive director of Western Pennsylvania Golf Association in Pittsburgh. “I think in the last 20 years, I think it’s six that were closed.”
One of the most recent closures occurred in 2015, when Hempfield’s Scenic Links of Westmoreland shut down after only one season under the new ownership of Mark Allison. Allison purchased the property for $1.35 million in January 2015. The course opened in the mid-1990s as Cherry Creek Golf Course.
Having closed almost a decade ago, the Churchill Valley Country Club sat on 148 acres along Beulah Road in Penn Hills and Churchill. The club was started in 1931 and at one time had more than 1,000 members before it closed and the clubhouse was demolished in 2016.
Other courses, such as Brackenridge Heights Golf Course in Harrison, are up for sale. In May, planning commissioners stopped potential developers from building a holistic wellness and recovery center on the 83-acre site. Course owner Ted Tomson said at the time the nine-hole course could not sustain itself because of taxes.
“Depending on the club, sometimes it’s not sustainable,” Teasdale said. “Markets change … inevitably (closures) are going to happen. There is a lot of golf in Western Pennsylvania. We did have a bunch open back in the mid- to late 90s. Going forward, that (building boom) may contribute to it.”
Despite woes seen on local and national levels, the United States remains the best supplied golf market in the world, with more than 14,610 facilities and over 16,690 courses, according the the National Golf Foundation.
“We’ve had a great run,” Rusnock said.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .