Balto. County golf course prepares to tee off 2nd new public facility in 13 months, Woodlands, set to open Wednesday

June 29, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's fifth public golf course opens Wednesday, its second new public course in 13 months and a facility that officials say will help make the county a more attractive location for businesses and their executives.

Woodlands Golf Course, a premium 18-hole course on county-owned land next to the older Diamond Ridge course near Woodlawn, cost $6.5 million and features a challenging 7,000-yard course with trees hemming in the fairways designed by Lindsay Ervin.

Its opening -- to be preceded by a VIP outing on the course today -- culminates a three-year effort by the county to put its public golf courses in the hands of the financially independent Baltimore County Revenue Authority, rather than have the courses compete for tax dollars as part of the Department of Recreation and Parks.

"What we were worried about was taking money away from schools and roads and alleys," said Michael H. Davis, spokesman for County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

With the self-supporting revenue authority overseeing the courses, golfers' fees will pay for constructing the new courses, which were financed by bonds, and refurbishing the older ones, while the county benefits, Davis said.

"With Tiger Woods, golf is becoming more popular. Having public courses increases the county's desirability for people as a place to live," he said.

Hanan Y. "Bean" Sibel, chairman of the authority board, views the new course as an economic development tool.

"The significant thing is that we've got another high-class golf course open to the public. These are all things that make Baltimore County attractive for business," said Sibel.

The revenue authority's business had been limited to building and managing parking facilities in the county, especially the four high-rise garages in Towson.

But the self-supporting agency's ability to sell bonds to finance its projects led to the addition of golf, its largest endeavor.

Woodlands and Greystone Golf Course, which opened in May 1997 in Parkton, are the first publicly owned courses to be built in more than 20 years, but haven't cost taxpayers, Davis said.

Robert R. Staab, golf director for the revenue authority, said the Woodlands course will be just as challenging for golfers as Greystone, with matching rates of $41 on weekdays and $51 on weekends, which includes an electric cart.

The county's three older courses -- Diamond Ridge, Rocky Point Golf Course on the Chesapeake Bay and Longview Golf Course in Cockeysville -- cost $15 on weekdays and $17 on weekends, without a cart.

Several recent golfers at Diamond Ridge said they are looking forward to playing Woodlands.

"Very interesting," said Craig Pelletier, 40, of Reisterstown. "I'd definitely like to play that a few times."

In addition to recouping part of the $14 million construction cost for Woodlands and Greystone, the revenues from those courses PTC will help pay for improvements at the three older courses, including sprinkler systems and a new clubhouse at Diamond Ridge.

On Wednesday, the revenue authority will also begin receiving funds from another source: the chronically underused Tolbert garage near York Road and Washington Avenue in Towson.

The Medix School, founded by Jack Tolbert, for whom the 856-space, nine-story building is named, is to begin a 15-year lease that will include the garage's 19,600-square-foot ground level.

By Thanksgiving, his school should be in the new quarters, with 4,000 more square feet of space than its current building on York Road at Interstate 695, said Benjamin Wilke, the school director.

The school teaches medical office skills to more than 400 students in three daily instructional shifts and has 72 staff members.

"It will be a big benefit to Towson," said Wayne W. Rice, authority parking operations manager.

Pub Date: 6/29/98

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