Popularity keeps golf course in the black

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -- The national trend for golf courses is fewer and fewer golfers making the rounds. Last year the number of rounds played was 456 million, down from 469 million in 2016 according to the National Golf Foundation.

But that's not the case at Rapid City's Executive Golf Course, where business is booming.

Tucked in along Rapid Creek, Executive is a hidden gem in Rapid City. It has red tees and blue tees. But really they should be playing from the black tees. As in in the black.

"For the first time ever we're actually in the black through the month of July at Executive Golf Course," said Doug Lowe, Rapid City's Recreation Division manager.

For years the number of golfers at the city's other muni track, Meadowbrook, has been steady at about 40,000. But Executive has been bustling. In 2011 golfers logged about 12,000 rounds there. In 2017 that number was over 20,000.

The YMCA this year decided not to continue its lease of the LaCroix Links golf Course and the city opted not to maintain it. That might have boosted business at Executive but Lowe sees broader themes.

"I think one of the things that really nice about that course is that (golfers) get the experience of a big course in a smaller amount of time," he said. "I think people are in such a time crunch in their lives now. To play an hour-and-a-half, two-hour round of golf is a lot more convenient for people than playing a five-hour round of golf."

Out at the course there're other perspectives.

"This year it seems like we've had more women play. Husbands and wives. Boyfriends, girlfriends. Mother, daughters," said Executive Clubhouse Manager Jeff Richardt. "Our ladies league had over 70 players this year which is the most we've had in a long time."

But maybe there's an even simpler explanation.

"It's just a fun course is all," said regular Stan Miner. "It's a fun place to play. We enjoy it and that's what I'm after."