SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Golf is popular in Sioux Falls and that includes three city-owned courses.
City of Sioux Falls officials announced Wednesday the city had more than 105,000 rounds of golf played on the three city-owned golf courses – Elmwood, Prairie Green and Kuehn Park. That’s a 38% increase since 2018 when the three courses had 76,000 rounds of golf.
“The crazy part about that, the crazy good part, is we’re doing that and accomplishing that with 10 minute tee times,” Justin Arlt said during a city news conference. “We’re seeing record rounds of golf being played when the weather’s good.”
Arlt is the Sioux Falls golf market manager with Landscapes Unlimited, the third-party contractor the city partners with to manage the city’s golf courses. Arlt said since Landscapes Unlimited took over the city courses in 2018, annual golf passes grew from 900 to more than 1,500 in 2023.
“It’s important for all golfers of all abilities to be at the city golf courses,” Arlt said. “When we arrived, our patrons were wildly retired. The competitor across town very much was youthful with their fitness model and whatnot. We needed to get younger and we’ve done that.”
Arlt said the city’s 40 and under golf pass is now the best selling golf pass. He added more season passes and more rounds of golf equals more revenue.
“What we do is we reinvest, we make the properties better, we improve them,” Arlt said.
Some of the changes in recent years include a new irrigation pond at the Elmwood east course, concrete golf paths at Prairie Green, a new pump house at Kuehn Park and synthetic turf for driving ranges at Prairie Green and Kuehn Park.
New clubhouse at Elmwood
The newest addition to city golf courses will be a brand new clubhouse at Elmwood Golf Course, which has been open since 1926.
Tory Miedema, a park development specialist with the city, said Elmwood renovated all 27 holes of the course starting in 2014, a parking lot renovation in 2018 and a monument sign along Russell Street. Miedema said construction for a new 9,000 square-foot clubhouse is anticipated to start in Spring 2024 and open in Spring 2025.
“It will include event space to host large charity events that often go out of town or to private clubs and it will really provide us with a year round space available for the community to enjoy,” Miedema said.
The new clubhouse will be located just east of the current clubhouse that will remain open during construction. The new clubhouse will team up with First Tee and the South Dakota Golf Association.
First Tee, a youth golf organization, is providing funding to the new clubhouse for 4,000 square feet to house operations and host year-round programming, while the SDGA will relocate its Hall of Fame from the nearby Holiday Inn.
“What a great location to really celebrate the history of golf in South Dakota,” Miedema said.
Mum on possible future city-owned course
In August, parks and rec director Don Kearney told city council members a new city golf course needs to be on the city’s “radar screen.” Kearney pointed to the difficulty of finding an open tee time on the city’s courses.
Kearney also said golf courses, like Kuehn Park and Prairie Green have helped spur housing development.
Arlt declined to answer whether Landscape Unlimited would be prepared to take on another city golf course.
“We appreciate the question,” Arlt said. “It’s a growing community and golf is popular. I can say that.”
A new private golf club — Mapleton Golf Club — is looking to open in 2025 just north of Interstate 90 in northeastern Sioux Falls.
Sioux Falls is home to two private golf clubs – Minnehaha Country Club and The Country Club of Sioux Falls. If you include the Grand Falls Casino golf course in Larchwood, Iowa, as well as golf courses in Brandon and Hartford, the Sioux Falls area has 13 golf courses in a variety of styles.