William W. Amick

ASGCA Golf Course Architect 












Building an Airport Golf Course































Spruce Creek Fly-In Community near Daytona Beach, Florida



Have you ever wished while traveling that you could just grab your golf clubs from the baggage carousel and be on the first tee within the hour?  This is becoming a reality for more and more golfers because a growing number of airports are now including golf course projects on their property.  Why?  Because an airport that chooses to build a course can enjoy direct economic benefits as well as significant marketing advantages over their competition.

Examples of noted airports that have recognized these benefits and built golf courses include the Hyatt Bear Creek Hotel & Resort.  It has 36 holes at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.  Its Website can be seen at  www.hyatt.com.   A popular airport short course is the Westchester Golf Course at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).   Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, also has a golf course in their airport complex.  It is showcased at www.peasedev.org.

So, what are the factors that allow a public golf course to become such a successful addition to an airport?  First, most airports have more than enough acres of unused land that is appropriate for building a golf course.  Once this vacant land is improved by building a course, it can start producing a profit.  And with a long-term lease between the airport and the golf course’s operator, these types of arrangements can last for decades.

However, the greatest economic advantage of building an airport golf course can in fact be indirect.  This is because a golf course can provide a real marketing edge over the competition.  Given the option of leasing land near a course or not, many corporate tenants will choose this amenity for themselves and to benefit their employees.  This means having an airport course can translate to increased land leasing revenues for the airport’s bottom line – especially along fairway frontage.

Many offices, “clean” manufacturers, high-tech companies, warehouses, distribution centers and other businesses also enjoy the feelings of a “nice neighborhood” created by a golf course.  This kind of environment creates a beautiful and appealing landscape as well as easy access to recreational and social opportunities for area employees.  Golfers working around the airport especially like the fact they can play their favorite sport in their own backyard.  As a revenue source for the golf club, the airport’s employees and those of corporate tenants form an immediate pool of potential golfing customers.  These numbers will of course increase as the airport facility continues expanding. 

A golf course can also provide strong incentives for hotels, motels and conference centers to lease land and build at an airport location.  This is because having a course on site can influence golfing visitors to lengthen their stays while at conventions, vacations or other events.

In my four decades of professional golf course design I have been involved in several airport golf course projects.  For the Savannah International Airport I prepared the original golf course routing plan.  I also assisted with providing information for the airport’s application in obtaining the required wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.  The Website of a motel at the airport next to this golf course can be found at www.fairfieldinn.com.

You can access the Website for a course I designed at a naval air station by clicking on the following link, www.mwr-pcola.navy.mil.  I’ve also designed an additional nine holes at an air force base and planned the major remodeling of the greens at a separate air force base course.

Near my home in Daytona Beach, Florida, I designed an 18 hole layout for the Spruce Creek Fly-In Community.  This successful development features many homes that are situated between private hangers on the taxiway side and golf fairways on the other.  More can be learned about this community at www.cc-properties.com.

Drawing on my experience with these kinds of projects, let me now share with you how the process of adding a golf course to an airport facility typically proceeds.  During the initial discussions and touring the site, I advise if an airport has enough suitable land for a successful course.  After my visit, I explain the major preparatory steps, making a preliminary cost estimate and provide the planning schedule for the golf course.

My firm in some cases also prepares a preliminary routing plan showing the proposed course on a color drawing for display, promotional and approval purposes.  If other facilities will be surrounding or adjoining the course, the routing of the golf holes will be coordinated with their planning as well.

Sometimes an economic feasibility or market demand study is valuable for deciding if there will be enough golfers to support golf course and what kind of revenue should be expected from it.  If needed, I am able to recommend consultants which prepare these studies.  Also, I can work with local engineers or other professional firms specializing in airport planning for obtaining any necessary zoning, permits or approvals for building the course.

Following the permitting process, I prepare detailed drawings and technical information for proper construction of the course.  If requested, I can even furnish a list of golf course operators (course/club management companies) who might lease the site, provide their own financing and operate the course under a long-term arrangement.  If you are curious about any of these essential steps regarding adding an airport course, simply contact me and I will be glad to provide you with additional information.

Interestingly, many of the advantages in building an airport golf course also makes a project like this very appealing to potential golf course operators and management firms.  Most importantly, the course operator doesn’t have to make the large initial investment to buy land.  An additional benefit to the management company is that the lease payments normally start only after the golf course is open and generating revenue from golfers.  Busy airports typically are more likely to be profitable locations because they have a large local base of potential golfers and easy highway access.  These advantages, coupled with the fact that many air travelers and pilots already enjoy playing golf, make airports very lucrative locations for projects like this.

In the past, airport courses have been built by many types of entities.  These include another department of the airport’s municipality, the parks and recreation department of a local government or even by the airport itself.  The following is a partial list of airports that are reported to have already recognized the advantages afforded by an airport golf course on or adjacent to their land:

·        Dane County Regional Airport, Madison, Wisconsin

·        Port Columbus International Airport in Ohio

·        Craig Field of the Jacksonville Port Authority in Florida

·        Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah

·        Santa Barbara Municipal Airport in California with a golf course for more than 25 years

·        Saint Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in Florida has enjoyed a profitable course for almost half a century

·        Clearwater Air Park also in Clearwater, Florida has a smaller golf course

·        Hayward Executive Airport in California

·        Prescott Municipal Airport in Arizona has 36 holes

·        Pompano Beach Airpark in Florida also has a 36-hole golf course

·        Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas

·        Spirit of Saint Louis Airport in Chesterfield, Missouri

·        DuPage County Airport in Illinois

·        Fresno Air Terminal in California

·        Rock County Airport in Janesville, Wisconsin

·        Petahuma Municipal Airport in California

·        West Palm Beach International Airport in Florida

·        Michigana Regional Transportation Center in South Bend, Indiana

·        Zephyrhills Airport in Florida

·        Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in Florida

·        John Wayne Airport in Costa Mesa, California has nine holes of an 18-hole course on airport land

·        El Paso International Airport in Texas

·        Valkaria Airport in Brevard County, Florida

·        Huntsville International Airport in Alabama

·        Reno/Tahoe International Airport in Nevada

·        Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport in Minnesota

·        Formerly there was an 18-hole course at the Oakland International Airport in California.  The Port of Oakland used it as a site for depositing material dredged from the harbor.  A new 18 holes is to be constructed on top of that material.

·        Cheyenne Airport in Wyoming

·        Sebastian Municipal Airport in Florida

·        Venice Municipal Airport in Florida

·        Ormond Beach Municipal Airport in Florida

·        Las Vegas/McCarran International Airport in Nevada has recently signed a 99-year lease for a new 36-hole golf course

·        Loring International Airport in Limestone, Maine

·        Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville

·        Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona

·        Nanaimo Airport in Cassidy, British Columbia

·        Oshawa Municipal Airport in Ontario

·        Abu Dhabi International Airport in the Untied Arab Emirates

·        Hobart Airport in Australia

·        Nadi Airport in Fiji

·        Auckland Airport in New Zealand

Most airports have a forward-looking board and administrative staff who quickly understand the advantages of building a golf course on their land.  In virtually all cases, the airport staff and management work closely with the golf course operator to create a friendly and cooperative business relationship for everyone involved in the project.

As one airport director glowingly said of his course, “We have an 18-hole golf course with its beautiful clubhouse.  In winter months part of the course is used for skiing, snowboarding and tubing.  We also have a 50-acre campground.  These are why we say our airport is acres and acres of fun.”

So, please call me or click on my email link below if you would like to begin learning more about the possibilities of including a golf course at your airport.  There is no cost or obligation for our initial discussion.  I will be glad to discuss with you about how a new course could start adding additional sources of revenue to your organization, enticing area companies to sign leases with you and begin encouraging travelers and local golfers to choose your airport facility over your competition. 

And soon there may be some objects flying around your airport that don’t need clearance from the tower!


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Professional Golf Course Designer - Bill Amick
P.O. Box 1984
Daytona Beach, FL  32115
Telephone (386) 767-1449