Jay Karen is the new CEO of National Golf Course Owners Association

By: July 17, 2015

A new era will start at the National Golf Course Owners Association. Jay Karen will replace Michael Hughes on October 1. Hughes served for 25 years as CEO of NGCOA. Some of the achievements of Hughes are:

  • the NGCOA significantly increased membership and raised the statures of the organization and golf courses owners across the industry. 
  • formation of the Golf Industry Show, the second-largest and fastest-growing trade show in golf.


He also served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of GOLF 20/20, a member of the Board of Governors of the National Golf Foundation, an Advisory Board member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and Chairman of WE ARE GOLF.

Jay Karen is not new to NGCOA. Prior to this assignment he was the Director of Partner Relations and Membership of the NCCOA from 1997 to 2007.  

However, he will have to come up with solutions to turn round/back of closing golf courses and decline in golf participation. More golf courses closed than opened in the U.S. in 2013 for the 8th straight year, according to the National Golf Foundation.

A total of 14 18-hole courses opened in 2013, up from 13.5 in 2012, while 157.5 courses were closed during the year, three more than a year earlier (source: Jupiter). Public courses made up 97 percent (151.5) of the closures, with private courses accounting for 4 percent (6). A total of 8.5 public courses opened last year, compared with 5.5 new private courses.

Golf participation of golfers age 18 to 34

The decline (13% in 2013 from 2009 – Sports & Fitness Industry Association) in participation among  people aged 18 to 34, is a big problem since they are the future of golf.

It was also worrisome last year when Dick's Sporting Goods decided last year to restructure its golf equipment business (it costed $20.4 million). This is a clear sign of decline in sales. The share of golf equipment sales was 20% couple of years ago, but now is around only 10%. 

Companies like TaylorMade have to find answers how to cope with the new reality of golf retail.

I think the new NGCOA CEO, Jay Karen will not get bored…