Golf Course Management

AUG 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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34 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.19 Statistics indicate that municipal golf courses are trendy. Woodland Hills Golf Course in Fort Scott, Kan., oozes chic in the heartland. "When I got here eight years ago, only eight greens were open for play. e rest of them were dirt," says 23-year GCSAA superintendent Jon Kindlesparger, who revealed a name he once heard to describe municipal golfers (more on that later). Issues had persisted long before he arrived. It was a country club in those dark days when the bank came calling on the note in the 1990s: Find another owner or the place would be shuttered, is what Fort Scott native Mitch Quick recollects. "We were putting on crabgrass greens," Quick says. A new owner emerged, but old problems remained in Fort Scott, which has a popula - tion of roughly 7,800 people and is about 90 miles south of Kansas City. Ultimately, the city purchased Woodland Hills, and results have been promising. e deficit has decreased as revenues continue to increase. "Give credit to the city and to Jon," Quick says. "A dilapi - dated golf course now is a playable golf course." ere are others of its kind in municipalities across America, such as Rockwood Golf Club in Fort Worth, Texas — once downtrodden but now on the upswing. e nation - wide municipal golf course count reached a record-high of 2,515 in 2018, according to the National Golf Foundation. e NGF adds that approximately 75% of all U.S. courses are open to all players, matching the highest public-to-private ratio in history. e increase, according to NGF, is attributed to some public agencies acquiring former privately owned properties to control land use and/or to offer as an amenity to local residents. Does that mean municipal courses have recovered from the crush of new course open - ings 20-some years ago that created more competition for them? If anything, they exhibit persistence. "If you look at the model, generally, they (municipal golf courses) have great staying power, tend to not come and go and, for the most part, are pretty stable," says Steve Mona, executive director of We Are Golf. "If you live in a community with a golf course, you know it's probably going to be around there for a long time." Braemar Golf Course in Edina, Minn., has quite a history. Fifty years ago, it hosted the PGA Tour's Minnesota Golf Classic. Site of the USGA's 1979 Women's Amateur Public Links, Braemar closed three years ago before reopening in 2018. How has it been received? Finding a tee time is a task. The superinten - dent there is Jeff Mold. Photo courtesy of Joe Abood

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