The city and golf

Forum extra

August 07, 1991|By Henry H. Miller

IN 1985, the city's five municipal golf courses were losing over $500,000 every year and faced millions of dollars in necessary capital improvements.

The Schaefer administration wisely chose to establish the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation (BMGC) and stipulated that the new entity would have four objectives: improve the quality of the courses; promote greater use of the facilities; develop junior golf programs; and maintain financial viability. In the ensuing six years BMGC has done that. Headed by a nonpaid, nine-member board of directors, the corporation has continued to receive praise from local and national golf authorities, local sports columnists, radio and television broadcasters, three city administrations and the golfers of Baltimore.

All non-profit organizations are required by the IRS to use their revenues for the purpose for which their organizations were established. The golfers of Baltimore rightfully expect their dollars to be used for the management of the golf courses.

An article in The Evening Sun (Aug. 1) accurately stated that this year's $800,000 profit was, in part, due to a mild winter and little rainfall. Our yearly budget is required to yield between $400,000 and $600,000 so that we can cover $300,000 in operating expenses during the off-season (January, February and March), when monthly revenues are slim. Another $250,000 is budgeted for BMGC's capital improvement program.

Several years ago our staff created a comprehensive capital improvement plan that extends through the year 2000. The increased profits this year will provide us with an opportunity to address many projects sooner than we had anticipated.

There is one project we won't be able to complete -- the installation of a fire hydrant. The clubhouse at the Mount Pleasant golf course experienced a small fire one evening, which fortunately went out by itself. The fireman who investigated the incident explained that the fire department would be unable to control a major clubhouse fire without a hydrant. Subsequently, the city declined our appeal to install a fire hydrant and the Board of Estimates failed to approve BMGC's request for a fire hydrant, even though BMGC proposed paying for the estimated $25,000 installation. One can only wonder at the logic of a mayor, whose campaign literature takes credit for increasing the rounds of golf on the courses, yet refuses to protect its assets, which ultimately belong to the city.

It is also curious that the mayor has forgotten about the extent of our involvement with children. During the past six years we have graduated over 1,000 juniors from our summer golf schools; conducted many junior golf tournaments; hosted an international golf competition with a team from Lanarkshire, Scotland; hosted an all-star golf team from Washington, D.C.; and worked to bring golf into the city's physical education curriculum. Currently we are sponsoring children from the Division of Juvenile Services in our summer programs.

The mayor should also be pleased to know that we are working on plans to build a four-hole training center at Pine Ridge Golf Course, specifically designed to help Baltimore's junior and physically-challenged golfers. This project, as with all other projects proposed by BMGC, will be built at no expense to the taxpayers of Baltimore.

Instead of demanding money from a non-profit organization that has accomplished the mandates of its charter, the mayor could reduce Baltimore's financial deficit through the privatization of other city endeavors. It is unfortunate that our hard work and success has become fuel for political rhetoric during an election year.

Henry H. Miller is chairman of the board of the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation.

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