These eerie photos of deserted golf courses reveal a new normal in America

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This northern New Jersey country club and golf course has been closed for over a year.
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Sarah Jacobs

Once a community staple in suburbs across America, the golf course is now a slowly dying breed.

Over 800 golf courses have shuttered across the US in the past decade, and data from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association has shown that millennials between the ages of 18 to 30 have a lack of interest in playing the game. From Las Vegas, Nevada to Mahwah, New Jersey, many courses are being replaced with housing developments.

We recently explored two closed golf courses in northern New Jersey, both of which are being turned into housing developments, to see firsthand what courses across the country look like as they become abandoned.


The Apple Ridge Country Club, located in Mahwah, New Jersey, opened in 1966.

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The front of Apple Ridge Country Club.
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Sarah Jacobs

Clinton Carlough bought the property, which was originally an apple orchard, and built the country club. It was family-owned and operated by the Carloughs until it was sold in 2014.

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The back of Apple Ridge Country Club.
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Sarah Jacobs

Source: NorthJersey.com


Complete with an event space, 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, and tennis courts, Apple Ridge was a place the whole community could enjoy.

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The front entrance to the club.
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Sarah Jacobs

The property’s 108 acres were turned into an 18-hole golf course designed by Hal C. Purdy.

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The Apple Ridge golf course.
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Sarah Jacobs

However, data collected by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association show that the game of golf is losing players, and in 2015 it was at its lowest point in years.

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Sarah Jacobs

Source: Washington Post


Apple Ridge Country Club is just one example of the decline in golfers in the state of New Jersey. Between 2006 and 2014, the number of New Jersey State Golf Association members dropped by 10%.

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Sarah Jacobs

Brands that sell golf gear, such as Adidas and Dick’s Sporting Goods, have also taken notice of the decline. Former Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer told the Washington Post in 2015 that the decline has “caused immense problems in the entire industry.”

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Sarah Jacobs

Source: Washington Post


This decline in popularity is often blamed on a shift in work culture and the economy, with more people spending longer hours at the office and fewer people willing and able to spend the time and money needed to invest in playing the game.

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Sarah Jacobs

Each golf course has its own unique set of problems to deal with once it officially closes.

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Sarah Jacobs

While some abandoned golf courses are catching fire in the drought-affected portions of California, Apple Ridge is currently being treated for arsenic and lead contamination in the soil, which resulted from the pesticides that were used to treat the grass.

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Sarah Jacobs

Source: Bloomberg, NorthJersey.com


Currently, developers plan to build 78 upscale homes on the property — each on 36,000-square-foot plots.

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Sarah Jacobs

Source: NorthJersey.com


However, since it officially closed in late 2015, the country club has seemingly remained uncared for.

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Sarah Jacobs

Curtains remain hanging inside, however, vandals have degraded the property, breaking windows and tagging the walls with graffiti.

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Sarah Jacobs

The swimming pool entrance still stands …

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Sarah Jacobs

… and the “Staff Only” signs still mark the doors to the swimming pool’s check-in and kitchen area.

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Sarah Jacobs

While peering inside through busted windows, you’ll see a left-behind grill.

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Sarah Jacobs

The once-sprouting water fountain now stands empty.

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Sarah Jacobs

Trash and objects from inside the club are scattered around the property.

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Sarah Jacobs

Although it’s in the middle of a bustling suburb, the property grounds of Apple Ridge feel eerie and silent.

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Sarah Jacobs

It’s unclear when construction will begin on the property, as the developers have noted they will first handle the toxins found in the land.

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Sarah Jacobs

Just a little less than 10 miles south is what was once High Mountain Golf Course.

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Sarah Jacobs

High Mountain had an annual membership fee of $5,000. However, even its relatively affordable pricing couldn’t save it. The 131 acres of land will eventually house 275 homes.

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The main clubhouse of High Mountain Golf Course.
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Sarah Jacobs

High Mountain was sold to the same developers as Apple Ridge: Toll Brothers. Construction here has already begun.

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Sarah Jacobs