New Loch Raven course is just Hayden tap-in away

John Steadman

December 02, 1992|By John Steadman

It shouldn't be necessary to hit the Baltimore County executive, one Roger Hayden, over the head with a 6-iron to get his attention. That might be construed as assault with a deadly weapon, regardless of whether you were playing winter or summer rules.

But Hayden has before him a perfect opportunity to help the golfers of the Greater Baltimore area, which includes his important jurisdiction, Baltimore County, and also to gain applause for his leadership. All he has to do is nod his head and the planned new golf course at Loch Raven, adjoining the present Pine Ridge layout, will be approved.

Baltimore City has flashed the go-ahead sign. Construction could begin without the consent of Hayden but the city administration, along with the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp., feels obligated to ask permission. Bottom line is it wants to be a good neighbor. The existing Pine Ridge course has been an asset to all public golfers, whether they reside in the city or county.

The price for the course is put at $4 million but at no cost to the taxpayers of the city, county or state. Financing would be provided by the golf corporation, with some of the funding utilized from its reserve. Architectural drawings are in hand and environmental findings have determined it would in no way RTC jeopardize the drinking water that's stored in Loch Raven.

"Concern for environmental problems has been answered," says Henry Miller, chairman of the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp., which has elevated golf by dint of its outstanding performance since it took over operation of the city-owned courses eight years ago. Hayden wouldn't be dealing with a collection of unknowns. This one has an admirable record of achievement.

"Mayor Kurt Schmoke talked with Mr. Hayden," said Miller, "and then asked me [to] attempt to get the matter settled. We met with the county executive and Jim Deiter, director of environmental affairs for Baltimore County. We have discussed all the issues and concerns. We have indicated we are amenable to solving any points of disagreement in further discussions."

Engineers for the city undertook complicated studies on the results of having Pine Ridge bordering the shores of the watershed during the last 34 years.

"Its findings showed that over the entire time period the course has been there the water quality, sediment and fish tissue have not changed," added William L. Cook, executive director of the golf corporation.

What makes the issue paramount is that something must be decided before Jan. 1 or the building of the course will come under a new piece of state legislation, referred to as the "tree bill," that may add appreciably to the price tag and prolong the entire subject. Miller and his group have been waiting four years for permission to go ahead with the project, plus creating a special three-hole training course for golfers with physical handicaps.

Some of the 18 holes would be located north of the eighth hole and southeast of the 10th green on the existing course.

"It would surpass in beauty the current layout at Pine Ridge," said Cook. "This may sound like an exaggeration but, believe me, it would exceed Caves Valley and any other course you can name in this area when it comes to playability and beauty."

Now that qualifies as a tremendous promise. Right now, it seems Hayden needs to be prompted by golfers to get on with the effort. If he needs to be reassured as to its need, considering the lack of public facilities for golfers in the city and county, then all he has to do is have his staff interview the taxpayers within Baltimore County.

The golfers, according to Miller, if in agreement, should contact Hayden and urge his endorsement. "I have his address," commented Miller. "Write him at county headquarters, 400 Washington Ave., Towson, Md. 21204. We've been waiting on this four years. Every possible study has been completed, including environmental, water quality, control of runoffs, animal habitat and traffic counts. All have been favorable regarding another golf course at Loch Raven."

The differences, if they exist, aren't insurmountable. It's doubtful if the county has monies available to build courses to answer the requirements of its residents. Another facility at Pine Ridge would ease availability of tee times, increase future income for the city and provide the area what it deserves -- a first-rate opportunity to play golf.

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