Mt. Pleasant, Pine Ridge to tee up new system in hope of speeding up play Back ones to cost $3 more than new, shorter ones

November 27, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

An innovative "two-tee system" designed to speed up the pace of play will be instituted at Mount Pleasant Golf Course and Pine Ridge Golf Course in the spring.

This was confirmed yesterday when the board of directors of the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation, which leases the five city courses, voted to approve a proposed budget for next year. Included in the package, recommended at a budget committee meeting last week, were funds for building the new tees needed to implement the plan.

About 30 tees now are under construction and, weather permitting, will be available by the April 1 start-up date. In the meantime, golfers will be able to get a feel for the new setup, becausethose tees are similar to the winter tees currently in use at the two facilities.

Under the new plan, devised by BMGC board chairman Henry Miller, the current White (middle) tees will be eliminated, leaving the Blues (back) and the new forward ones. At Pine Ridge, these will be called "Dogwood," measuring about 5,500 yards, and at Mount Pleasant, "Azalea," measuring about 5,400 yards. In both instances, the distances are about 1,000 yards shorter than the current middle tees.

In addition, all home-based golf associations, such as men's, women's and seniors groups, plus outside outing groups, will be required to use the new tees.

"Our main objective is to improve the pace of play without changing our fee structure," Miller said yesterday. "Any alternative ideas, such as a longer interval between starting times, would have resulted in fewer times, and, as a result, a need for increased fees.

"For example, if we were to go to, say, a 10-minute interval, we would have to raise the fees by 20-25 percent to cover the lost times [revenue]."

At the same time, Miller believes a large segment of players -- beginners, high handicappers, most seniors and most women -- ought to be playing the forward tees anyway. The low handicap players, and those who think they ought to be, still will be able to play from the Blues, but for an additional $3 fee.

Detractors believe the plan will send more (poorer) players to the back tees, another deterrent to faster play. Also, low handicappers may be able to drive the greens on some par-4 holes, necessitating a wait until the way is clear.

"Really, I believe the players who use the new tees will still be able to enjoy the challenging characteristics of the courses while getting around in reasonable [4 1/2 hours] time," Miller said.

Among several voicing complaints at Pine Ridge yesterday was Carl Palmer, a frequent player, who already had decided he would play elsewhere. Another admitting displeasure with the idea was David Jones, a member of the Pine Ridge Seniors group, unhappy about the thought of having to play from the new tees.

Sal Ercolano Jr., president of the Pine Ridge Men's Club, has been most vocal in disagreeing with Miller's ideas about the plan.

"I believe a majority of golfers would accept increased fees to maintain the integrity of the golf courses," he said. As for the changes, "Many of our club members play at other times besides our designated events, and we would have liked to have been consulted about such a major change to the courses we play regularly."

Ercolano also was upset that a petition he posted on his club's bulletin board Miller had removed. The latter said he had no problem with the petition, but wanted Ercolano to get the signatures himself. "We didn't want it posted where anybody could sign it," the chairman said.

Pub Date: 11/27/96

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