There’s free WiFi and a good assortment of shops and restaurants. And, right in the center of the main terminal, there’s a putting green. To play, travelers need only stop in at Sam Snead’s Tavern and rent a putter for just a few dollars. A souvenir golf ball is included in the rental.
David Fish took these photos for StuckatTheAirport.com and I noticed that not only is there a putting green at the airport, but it appears that there’s a pool table there too.
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.
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.
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.”
I was calling around to airports today, trying to track down some information for a column about golf courses and a friend reminded me that there used to be an outdoor putting green at Palm Springs International Airport in California.
Thomas Nowlan, the current executive director of the Palm Springs airport, told me that because the putting green was post-security and because the airport kept a bunch of steel shaft golf clubs on hand as loaners, the TSA asked that the putting green be shut down after 9/11.
I was getting set to be all sad about that, even though I’m not a golfer and even though this fine amenity has been gone now for quite some years. But then this picture arrived, with an explanation that this what travelers see now when they pass through security.
Somehow I don’t think many people are missing the putting green.