CA urged to close golf course for a year

Committee recommends shutdown to rebuild Hobbit's Glen greens

Columbia

October 04, 2002|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The Hobbit's Glen/Fairway Hills Golf Committee has recommended to Columbia Association staff that the troubled Hobbit's Glen Golf Club be shut down for about a year, beginning in August, to rebuild all the greens.

The 14-member committee met Wednesday and voted that the course should be closed, preferably from August through the middle of spring 2004, to provide the best long-term solution for the course's problems.

"That option will put the greens in a position where they should not need any major renovation for 40 to 50 years," said Dave Leonard, golf committee chairman.

Last month, the Hobbit's Glen/Fairway Hills Greens Committee gave Columbia Association staff members the same recommendation.

Ben Clements, greens committee chairman, said the 12-member panel conducted thorough research and talked with golf superintendents in Philadelphia and on the Eastern Shore before arriving at its recommendation.

Both committees also gave staff members these options: rebuilding the greens within two years (working on nine holes each year) or rebuilding some greens and regrassing others during either a one- or two-year period.

However, Leonard said he worried that repairing the course over two years would discourage golfers who like to play 18 holes.

"If we don't have 18 holes available, certainly some [golfers] will opt out, and they won't play Hobbit's Glen at all," he said.

Columbia Association staff members will consider the committees' recommendation before they make a formal presentation to the association's board of directors during a fiscal 2004 budget workshop Oct. 12 and 13.

At the workshop, the board - which also acts as the Columbia Council - will begin analyzing how to fix the golf course's damaged greens, which association golf managers have attributed to a number of problems, including poor original construction, age, turf disease and drought.

The course's condition has reduced the number of rounds played, and Leonard told the board last month during a prebudget public hearing that he predicted continued declining use of the course would cause a loss of $165,000 to $200,000 this year.

Leonard said he hopes Columbia Association staff members and the board will look favorably on the committees' recommendation and see it "as a very long-term fix that they won't have to get involved with again in their lifetimes."

Columbia Councilman Joshua Feldmark of Wilde Lake has said that he intends at the workshop to bring up the idea of leasing the course to outside management in an attempt to solve its problems.

However, Rob Goldman, the Columbia Association vice president for sport and fitness, has said that is not a viable option because the association would lose at least $750,000 in operating income from Hobbit's Glen and Fairway Hills.

Clements said that as the board members ponder the fate of Hobbit's Glen, he hopes they will also consider the pride that golfers have in the course.

"That's a rather intangible thing that we need to think about," he said. "The people have got to believe in the golf course and want to play it."

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