Public golf needed, not park

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Recently The Augusta Chronicle’s Opinion page featured a column by Bob Young (“Repurposing the Patch: City property’s future could lie elsewhere,” Aug. 18). His suggestion is to convert the city-owned property – which is presently and has always been the home on the municipal golf course, commonly referred to as the Patch – into a city park.

His is one of many opinions submitted by a variety of city leaders, golfers and other civic-minded people who think the city should not shoulder any financial responsibility for a public golf course, and that the course should support itself. However, this is unrealistic in this day and time. In the past, when privately run, the Patch did make money.

However, let us look at the reasons the Douglas family – who for many years leased the course – were able to make money.

First and foremost, during their tenure of leasing the course from the city the only other golf courses in the city proper were Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta Country Club and the Armed Forces Golf Club, now known as Forest Hills Golf Club. To play at these clubs required membership or being a current or retired member of the Armed Forces. However, these requirements excluded a vast number of less affluent or non-service-related golfers in Augusta with nowhere to play golf except the Patch.

Second, during those years the Patch did not use a lot of the financial assets on upkeep. It was playable but definitely not up to the standards of a private golf club.

Third, Ann and Red Douglas were kind and generous people who encouraged young golfers and allowed many students to play at no cost, and when these children became adults they became loyal dues-paying members.

Therefore, because of lack of competition, low overhead and maintenance cost, and loyal members the Douglas family made a profit. The Patch was needed in those days as an affordable access to golf, and even today with many courses in and around our fair city, it is needed today for those youngsters who have finished their tenure at The First Tee; those now taking golf as a part of physical education in public schools; and senior citizens, all who need an inexpensive, public-supported course to play golf.

Our city presently supports – through its Recreation, Parks and Facilities Department budget – many lovely parks and recreational activities. To name a few: Pendleton King Park; May Park; Riverwalk Augusta; and numerous baseball and football fields, basketball courts, swimming pools and water parks. In addition, city funds help support the Newman Tennis Center and the Aquatic Center. Also, we have the lovely trail that runs between the city canal and Savannah River that is visited daily by runners, cyclists and walkers. Also, there are lovely neighborhoods in Augusta and the beautiful GRU Summerville campus that host numerous runners and walkers each day.

Therefore, it does not appear that we need to spend taxpayer dollars developing another city park, because if the municipal golf course is lost to a park, the city will be sponsoring all sports and recreational activities except golf.

Norma Miller Ingram

Augusta

Comments (16)

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deestafford
18184
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deestafford 08/30/13 - 05:30 am
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2

A well thought out and informative

position which makes a lot of sense. The Patch could be an excellent municipal golf course if the commission would use common sense and quit squabbling...or will that happen when pigs fly?

justputtin
1382
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justputtin 08/30/13 - 06:41 am
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1

Nice

Ms. Ingram has a good memory. And she's very accurate with her facts and opinions. She makes too much sense for the downtown clowns. Can I copyright that? Anyway, ego and agendas make decisions down there. Not all are that way but enough to ruin the pie.

jimmymac
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jimmymac 08/30/13 - 08:45 am
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PATCH

Unpublished

The only way the Patch will make money is if the course is given to a private concern for operation. If the government is involved with it's operation it will be a drain on the taxpayers. Lease it back out to someone willing to run it and then let them run it without interference from some bureaucrats.

Little Lamb
40104
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Little Lamb 08/30/13 - 08:58 am
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2

Assertion

Let's do some dissection:

. . . other civic-minded people who think the city should not shoulder any financial responsibility for a public golf course, and that the course should support itself. However, this is unrealistic in this day and time. In the past, when privately run, the Patch did make money.

Ms. Ingram makes her bold assertion that the golf course cannot support itself in this day and time, but she offers no evidence, no facts, no financial analysis, no economic study. Are we to run our city government based on what Norma says because she is Norma?

Now, I was not in Augusta during the heyday of Ann and Red Douglas, so I do not know the time frame Ms. Ingram is talking about here. Did the Douglases run the golf course in the 19-teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties? When were the Douglas glory days when the Patch made money for the city? Inquiring minds want to know.

Then she says because of the exclusivity of private clubs back in the Douglas glory days, there weren't other public courses to play on. That statement is the best argument for converting the Patch to other uses — because today there are a plethora of courses available to the public. They exist not only in Augusta, but also in Burke County, Columbia County, and Aiken County. We are awash in golf courses open to the public. The city no longer needs to subsidize the Patch.

Put the land and amenities, as is, up for auction — no strings attached — payable in cash within ten days of the sale.

prov227
2291
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prov227 08/30/13 - 09:20 am
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Let's get the facts straight ...

during the period the writer speaks, there was a golf course off Lumpkin Road, Green Meadows Golf Course that was open to the public. It was much nicer than the "Patch". In those days, the "Patch" was referred to as the "Cabbage Patch" by those who played it.

Talktothehand
60
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Talktothehand 08/30/13 - 09:58 am
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Only in Augusta!

Mrs. Ingram...I like your argument to have a public course in Augusta. However, The City of Augusta, the tax payers, and this one horse town's major need to stay out of the golf business. Unlike, other publicly funded projects, golf is an expensive sport to play, maintain and manage and no place for a board of clowns. The average club's budget to cut the grass and keep the weeds to a minimum ,on 100 plus acres, is 500K to 700K dollars per year. The bottom line is that "The Patch" needs 35K rounds played per year to run profitably.

Augusta is the only town "in the world" blessed with a world-class sporting event - bringing in 50M to the CSRA's annual budget! In my opinion, the Augusta commissioners have disrespected the hand that feeds them. Giving back and mentoring are spirits of the game of golf itself, which doesn't seem to be one of your better attributes. Please get out, and stay out of golf business. You could have sold or leased the property 10 times by now - if it weren't for your greed! This tax burden has been in debate too long.

In the spirit of Mrs. Ingram's article I say to all, "Only in a town, run by clowns, that killed a State Golf Hall of Fame - which is the mecca of golf to the world, could this happen...only in Augusta, Ga. We won't forget! Wp

allhans
21928
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allhans 08/30/13 - 10:04 am
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5

I agree with Mrs. Ingram.

I agree with Mrs. Ingram.

etlinks
15880
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etlinks 08/30/13 - 10:23 am
5
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Green Meadows was private and

Green Meadows was private and you had to play with a member and it never was much better than the Patch.

Jake
30319
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Jake 08/30/13 - 11:15 am
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The old Patch

I am not sure when the Douglas' started running the Patch but they were there when I started going to the course as a caddy for my friends father in 1962.
Tee times? The only "tee time" to be had at the Patch was showing up and putting your ball in a vertical metal sleeve and when your ball was at the bottom then you teed-off.
I loved going there. The smell of hot dogs inside the Army barracks style clubhouse, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas always being friendly, the old (I mean really old) golf clubs you could rent, antique Zenith console radio that no longer worked, gambling tables in the mens room with men drinking and playing cards, etc.
Things are different now, sadly. Nice clubhouse with no character, different personnel behind the counter everytime you go inside, a lot more roomier inside but nothing to fill the spaces, snack bar with not much to offer, etc.
The Patch has potential but it sure needs someone who can run it effectively and have the backing of the city of Augusta, which is not happening.

countyman
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countyman 08/30/13 - 11:50 am
2
8

The state of Georgia killed

The state of Georgia killed the Golf Hall of Fame when they decided to the funding. The good is a new university grow on the property.,

The Patch needs to be sold to GRU or to an private developer. Unless the Iggy turns the property into multiple pools and splash pads.

Little Lamb
40104
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Little Lamb 08/30/13 - 12:04 pm
7
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GGHOF

Not the state, but it was the trustees of the Gardens and Golf Hall of Fame who led to the demise. The state funding (countyman might call it "seed money" or "public/private partnership money") was always intended to be temporary. It was clear in the charter that the enterprise was supposed to become self-supporting within a certain time frame. The board of trustees squandered the opportunity by lavish spending.

The same thing happened with the Ga. Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Macon. After the specified number of years the state pulled the plug and the Hall of Fame could not stay afloat. It shows that government should stay out of entertainment enterprises, such as halls of fame and minor league baseball parks and golf courses when the area is awash in privately-owned golf courses open to the public.

Bizkit
21868
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Bizkit 08/30/13 - 02:57 pm
2
4

Build a NASCAR race track and

Build a NASCAR race track and they will come. As good as any field of dreams anyone else is proposing. The place would be packed.

CobaltGeorge
138588
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CobaltGeorge 08/30/13 - 03:37 pm
3
2

I Always Thought That The Cabbage Patch Was Playable

but I can see by some of the comments that many of you have never played the "Three Oaks" at Pumpkin Center. If you could walk away without a big bump on you head, then you had a good game.

The first course I played was "Rocky Branch". I really like the course. Got my first hole in one in a dog leg par 4, hole 4.

Gage Creed
12341
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Gage Creed 08/30/13 - 06:49 pm
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0

How did the GGHOF enter into

How did the GGHOF enter into this? Yet another Joe Isuzu moment....

Little Lamb
40104
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Little Lamb 08/30/13 - 07:10 pm
5
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GGHoF

Yeah, Countyman can change the subject at the drop of a hat. Of course, I have been known to follow a rabbit down the hole on these Chronicle threads myself. Seven degrees of separation and all that jazz.

nocnoc
30760
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nocnoc 08/30/13 - 08:55 pm
2
0

Someone needs to Google Golf Courses in Augusta.

There are about 17 other PUBLIC Courses within 19 miles of Augusta all open to the public willing to pay the fee.

Let me help:
http://www.golflink.com/golf-courses/city.aspx?dest=augusta+ga
Just look for that little "(Public) " indicator.

rebellious
18705
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rebellious 08/30/13 - 08:59 pm
3
0

Entitlement Mentality

is everywhere these days. Public Parks....Ok I get it. Public Golf, subsidized by overburdened taxpayers, not so much. Forest Hills, Applewood, Pointe South, Goshen, Waynesboro CC, Jones Creek and Green Meadows are all open and accessible. If the Cabbage Patch can be contracted to break even for the city, go for it. If it takes one dime of tax dollars so a retiree can play for reduced or free, gut it like a hog. I have posted before, when the course was bleeding dollars from the city, I would ride into the parking lot and see Benzes, Cadillacs, BMWs, etc, with retired military prestige license plates. No sir, I know what those retirement checks look like. You may have my undying respect for your service to this country, but foot the bill for your golf, thank you very much.

Or make a class A park out of it. The land elevations may be perfect for a long slide parallel to Highland Avenue,

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