Haley Meisenholder

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Not in My Back Nine: An Examination of Land Use Disputes over Golf Course Redevelopments in America

Golf courses in America delineate and identify landscapes of luxury, exclusion and abundance. Golf courses in the Southwest are part of an invented tradition and products of post-WWII land speculation and suburbanization. The lushness of these courses is in stark contrast with the desolate natural landscape, requiring large amounts of water in drought-ridden deserts. Since 2005, golf membership has declined, stemming from a change in middle class circumstance. No longer upholding the sport, over 1,000 golf courses have closed potentially opening over 190,000 acres for a new use. This thesis examines three suburban master-planned communities ¬ghting redevelopments in Palm Desert, Phoenix and Las Vegas. In attempts to preserve the golf course use, community employ methods of exclusion such as open space conservation, legal restrictions, and political backing. These communities seek to locally de¬ne the “highest and best” use and preserve the use they are socially, culturally, and ¬nancially invested in.

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