Photo courtesy of John Deere

This isn't a market that equipment dealers just "jump" into. It takes focused marketing efforts and an "insider's" connection to gain a foothold.

With more than 13,000 active golf courses in the U.S., the market for specialized grounds maintenance equipment can be lucrative. It can also be as fickle as the consumer market segment that's highly dependent on discretionary income. It's not a market that a dealership can dabble in, says Scott Martinez, commercial products sales manager for Arizona Machinery. "You've got to jump in with both feet."

But even if a dealer puts both feet, his legs and back into the effort, this market just isn't for everyone, says Jeff Hedge of Birkey's Farm Stores. This dealership group operates 11 Case IH ag equipment dealerships and four Case construction equipment locations throughout central and northern Illinois.

According to Hedge, Jacobsen, one of the three major manufacturers of golf course maintenance equipment, approached Birkey's about representing them throughout the dealership's sales territory. "At the time, we thought it might be a good addition for us. They offered us a pretty good territory that overlapped our Case territory. There weren't a lot of strings attached and it didn't require a lot of commitment on the front side to get involved. So it looked like a pretty decent opportunity," says Hedge.

Golf Courses in the U.S.

According to a physical count of the golf courses listed in, there are nearly 13,250 active golf courses in the U.S. Of these, approximately 27% are private courses that are reserved for members only. The remaining 73% are open to the public.

Nine states have more than 500 courses each, while six states have less than 50 courses.

The biggest states in terms of number of golf courses include Florida (1,076), California (861), Michigan (834), New York (829) and Texas (709). The states with the fewest golf courses include Alaska (18), Rhode Island (31), Wyoming (33), Hawaii (34), Delaware (36) and Vermont (48).

Golf Courses - State-by-State

Alabama 66
Alaska 18
Arizona 280
Arkansas 128
California 861
Colorado 182
Connecticut 137
Delaware 36
Florida 1,076
Georgia 342
Hawaii 34
Idaho 70
Illinois 638
Indiana 280
Iowa 357
Kansas 187
Kentucky 190
Louisiana 158
Maine 111
Maryland 139
Massachusetts 268
Michigan 834
Minnesota 454
Mississippi 112
Missouri 254
Montana 60
Nebraska 142
Nevada 96
New Hampshire 88
New Jersey 266
New Mexico 266
New York 829
North Carolina 466
North Dakota 85
Ohio 683
Oklahoma 145
Oregon 132
Pennsylvania 542
Rhode Island 31
South Carolina 241
South Dakota 81
Tennessee 180
Texas 709
Utah 67
Vermont 48
Virginia 281