Refusing to give up the golf course war

September 19, 1995

HAVING FOUGHT FOR so long the opening of Columbia's Fairway Hills Golf Course, some residents appear determined to thwart its operation in any way possible. Their latest crusade has been to restrict the sale and consumption of alcohol at the facility by trying to block approval and implementation of a liquor license.

The Columbia Association, which operates the course, is seeking approval for the license from the county liquor board, which is expected to make a ruling Oct. 10. At issue is whether officials will restrict consumption to the clubhouse or allow it on the course, even to be sold from mobile carts.

We support the position taken by CA Facilities Director Ronald Goldman, who wants to limit the sale of beverages to the clubhouse but allow golfers to take their drinks onto the course. This is a worthwhile compromise that residents should accept in good faith.

At the same time, the Columbia Council, which will determine how beverages will be sold assuming the license is granted, needs to codify Mr. Goldman's recommendations. That would reassure the community that the association will not renege on its promise and institute sales from carts in the future.

Banning beverage carts is more than a psychological concession to residents. It should limit the extent of consumption among players. It also says that the association is willing to consider the concerns of residents, which at times have been ignored or overlooked.

The history of Fairway Hills has long been marred by conflict. Still, the great majority of residents who live along the course seem to accept and even welcome its existence. The back nine holes on the course opened a few weeks ago and the front nine are to be done this fall.

Not only is the facility aesthetically superior to what was there before, it has the potential of raising some property values by as much as 50 percent. Attempts to unnecessarily restrict the course's operation seem to us to be too much a reaction to having lost the battle to block the course entirely.

At some point, the remaining disgruntled residents will have to concede that the battle is over. The time for accommodation is now.

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