Runways to fairways: where to play golf at the airport

golfing

The National Golf Foundation estimates that are more than 27 million golfers in the United States.

A lot of those golfers are also frequent travelers.  So having a golf course at or near an airport is a nice convenience. It also makes economic sense: airports are usually ringed by plenty of intentionally-open land and golf courses need lots of room to spread out.

Putter around at the airport

As I explained in my recent At the Airport column on USATODAY.com – Practice your putting at the airport – there used to be a lot of places to practice putting inside airports. California’s Palm Springs International Airport had a post-security putting green with loaner clubs for travelers, but after September 11, 2001, the TSA asked the airport to shut it down.

30 or so airport PGA TOUR shops used to have putting greens and/or golf simulators as well. Now there’s just one small putting green at the PGA TOUR SHOP at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport and a golf simulator at the PGA TOUR Shop at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

This past May, the putting greens in ten Delta Airlines airport lounges also went bye-bye.

The good news: the pre-security, 9-hole putting green at the Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida is still intact and popular as ever.

Putting green Palm Beach Airport

Fairways hug the runways

Outside airports, it’s a different story.  There are golf courses on airport-owned property in Dallas-Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, Oakland, Savannah, Los Angeles, Columbus OH and Huntsville, Alabama.

gold course at Savannah Hilton Head Airport

Free airshow for golfers

Those are just the airport golf courses I could squeeze into my story.

In researching the column I also learned about the Thunderbolt Pass Golf Course at Indiana’s Evansville Regional Airport and courses at or next door to Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, The Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport, South Dakota’s Huron Regional Airport, Greenville Downtown Airport in South Carolina and Scholes International Airport in Galveston, Texas, where the golf course just got a $16 million makeover.

And then there’s the 18-hole Fairway Golf Course next to Salinas Municipal Airport. Airport Manager Gary Petersen says “It’s a fun course greatly appreciated by locals who favor the $35 Green Fee over the $500 fee at Pebble Beach.” Petersen says tee times always sell out well in advance of the California International Airshow, which is held each fall at the airport. The airshow features military jet teams and “play always slows as the golfers take full advantage of playing a round and seeing a world class airshow at the same time.”