Repurposing the Patch: City property's future could lie elsewhere

  • Follow Opinion columns

Repurposing: The use of something for a purpose other than its original intended use.


– Investopedia

When things just aren’t working as intended or have outlived their usefulness, we tend to look for another way to use them. For example:

• A portion of Daniel Field became Daniel Village Shopping Center.

• Enterprise Mill transformed from a textile plant into offices and apartments.

• The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Botanical Gardens is being recycled as part of a university expansion.

• Gilbert Manor Public Housing became the dental college for Georgia Regents University.

Critical thinking helps us determine when such a transformation is appropriate. That thinking can be driven by a number of factors, not the least of which is financial.

THE CURRENT state of affairs with the Patch, the city-owned golf course, puts critical thinkers at a crossroads to either continue on the bumpy road ahead or turn in another direction. Our Augusta commissioners can’t agree on whether to privatize the operation and, if that is the case, just who will do it. A lot of folks have come forward to push their dreams – all financed with city dollars.

But do we really want to put millions of dollars into a property that will benefit the relatively small number of people who play golf at the Patch? Is it a function of city government to provide a golf venue that competes with more than a dozen other publicly and privately owned courses in the immediate area?

The Patch has served Augustans and visitors well since David Ogilvie designed and built it in 1928. At the turn of the 20th century, golf was an evolving sport, and resorts in Augusta needed playing venues. That is simply not the case 100 years later, with courses of varying descriptions and degrees of difficulty scattered across the countryside.

The first argument you hear is that the Patch must be kept open because Augusta is the “Golf Capital of the World.” What a silly statement. Our city plays host to a major tournament one week out of the year, and we are rightfully proud of that. However, a failed Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and a rundown city golf course are evidence that you need to search elsewhere for a golf mecca – if, indeed, one exists. In fact, recent research by the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau tells us golf is not the reason most people want to visit Augusta.

THE PATCH IS a drain on slim city resources. If we ran a cost-benefit analysis (what a novel idea for government!), the results would be a reality check. The course does not even come close to breaking even. Promises of profits down the road are just that – promises. Didn’t a Scotsman make a lot of promises of profits? How did that work out for the city?

The current conversation gives critical thinkers an opportunity to look beyond the Patch. If not golf, what is the highest and best use of these more-than-100 virtually natural urban acres?

No doubt Daniel Field would like to extend the north/south runway to accommodate larger corporate jets. How would that sit with the neighbors? Not well, I suspect. Doubt it will fly.

What I do submit is that the Patch is an ideal location for a large city park on the scale of Piedmont Park in Atlanta. The rolling property is well-suited for hiking and biking trails in a natural setting not found anywhere else in Augusta.

Repurposing the Patch to take advantage of the cart paths (think trails) and existing clubhouse (think community center) would lessen the initial investment of the transformation. As a public park, the property would be used by hundreds, perhaps thousands, more people who never would pick up a golf club even in the best of conditions.

Research by the Urban Institute shows urban parks contribute to job creation, youth development, public health and community building in addition to traditional recreational uses.

Folks have been admiring the Augusta National Golf Club’s reclamation of an entire neighborhood for tournament parking. Some have suggested that property be used as a public park between tournaments. Such thinking simply shows how much the public values open and natural spaces amid seemingly endless urban development.

From the city’s experience at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, we’ve seen how passive recreation in a natural setting is a draw for people of all ages and means. Such natural public spaces are few in our city. The historic trend for park development in Augusta has been to support sports and playgrounds.

Timing is everything, especially in politics, and the time is at hand to make critical decisions concerning the future of the Patch property. The question is not about golf. It is much bigger than one sport.

I’ve played golf all my life and enjoy it. But I also like to keep golf in perspective. I don’t believe the government owes me a place to play it. If I want to play government golf, I can go to Forest Hills or Fort Gordon.

The opportunities that come with a city park in a natural setting on dozens of acres are incredible. The Patch has the potential to be a Pendleton King Park on steroids.

We will do a disservice to future generations if we allow this opportunity to slip by without a serious community conversation.

(The writer is a former Augusta mayor and current president and CEO of the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy.)

Comments (17) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
truth_be_told
279
Points
truth_be_told 08/18/13 - 07:20 am
3
1
BS

More places for A-RC to spend money instead of increasing the tax base. First of all we do not need two airports in Augusta. Combine both properties into a walled retirement community with Doctors' offices and other professional office space and local restaurants. Quick access to both Daniel Village, Trinity Hospital and Augusta Mall will be a big draw.
Simply put: increase the tax base not the outgoing expenses. Turn several million in costs into several million in revenue.

deestafford
41658
Points
deestafford 08/18/13 - 08:23 am
1
0
There are some good points made; however, I don't think

all options as far as golf at the Patch has been exhausted. The last hurdle to overcome would be the disfunctional and incompetent city commission when it comes to thinking--critical and otherwise. There have been some sound proposals made by private enterprises on how the Patch could eventually be turned into a money making operation, but ignorance again stuck its head into the meeting rooms of our "government".

TrukinRanger
1774
Points
TrukinRanger 08/18/13 - 08:39 am
0
0
I'm tired of hearing about
Unpublished

I'm tired of hearing about the patch. Sell it. If someone with the means to keep it up wants to leave it as a public golf course then fine, otherwise get the city out.

soapy_725
44955
Points
soapy_725 08/18/13 - 09:04 am
0
0
Government does not need to provide entertainment.
Unpublished

Government does not need to provide entertainment.

soapy_725
44955
Points
soapy_725 08/18/13 - 09:06 am
0
0
Provide for common defense, general welfare, security for all.
Unpublished

Provide for common defense, general welfare, security for all.

soapy_725
44955
Points
soapy_725 08/18/13 - 09:06 am
0
0
Sounds like Mr. Young is running for another political office?
Unpublished

Sounds like Mr. Young is running for another political office?

soapy_725
44955
Points
soapy_725 08/18/13 - 09:07 am
0
0
He didn't get a park named for himself, did he? There's hope.
Unpublished

He didn't get a park named for himself, did he? There's hope.

corgimom
47988
Points
corgimom 08/18/13 - 11:41 am
4
0
This is all about the

This is all about the Commissioners that want to provide low-cost golf for themselves and their buddies, in a city with a 23.7% poverty rate and areas where decent people aren't even safe in their homes in broad daylight.

PRIORITIES, folks!

Sweet son
13890
Points
Sweet son 08/18/13 - 02:10 pm
4
0
Oh, corgimom!

You hit it! The commissioners who vote to keep spending money on the Patch are looking out for not only themselves but a bunch of black golfers. Thus their push to keep it open. If you ride up and down Highland Avenue and look over to the course look at the racial makeup of the players. Those commissioners are not looking out for the county they are looking out for their brothers!

I won't get many likes on this but guess what it is the truth.

Ben There
56
Points
Ben There 08/18/13 - 02:43 pm
1
0
The Patch Park

I think converting the Patch into a really good park is an excellent idea.

Jake
37184
Points
Jake 08/18/13 - 02:44 pm
4
0
Hmmm.....

.....not sure of the current racial make-up of the players but the last time I played it (2011) there were all types of races playing, mostly white.
I have always been a Patch supporter but am not sure about that now. It was there where I learned about the game and played for the first time. But that was back in the early 60's with Red Douglas at the helm and the Army barracks as the clubhouse. I wish they were both still there but time marches on.
The course has rarely ever been in "top" shape, hence the name "Patch". If a private investor cannot be found to buy and operate the golf course then it should be sold to the highest bidder. The park idea sound nice but you may end up with another Riverwalk situation in terms of security and maintenance.

countyman
22957
Points
countyman 08/18/13 - 03:07 pm
1
1
The poverty rate is the

The poverty rate is the average between 2007-2011, and it's now 2013.

According to the 2011 FBI crime rate. Metro Augusta had the second lowest rate among the large cities(Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, Macon, Columbus, Athens) in the state only behind Savannah. The majority of previous years Augusta and Athens had the two lowest rates. The metro area of Charlotte was more dangerous in 2011 compared to Augusta.

The patch doesn't need to compete against the existing Pendleton King park. The patch could become space for GRU or multiple swimming pools/splash parks. The Pendleton King park needs to be expanded, and receive a facelift.

The new urban park must be located in the Augusta Exchange. Somewhere preferably on Wheeler rd near Doctors Hospital/I-20 were developers can build around the park.

dichotomy
43848
Points
dichotomy 08/18/13 - 03:14 pm
2
0
The park sounds nice but then

The park sounds nice but then I remember the Riverwalk. I will not favor any future amenity in Augusta until the commissioners can provide basic services and maintain what we have already got WITHING OUR EXISTING TAX RATES. If they can't maintain drain pipes, clean up and police the Riverwalk, fix the potholes, provide good fire and ambulance services WITHOUT asking for a new tax or SPLOST...then I certainly would not be in favor a creating another park that we would not maintain and that would become just another place to go get mugged. EVEN GOOD IDEAS DO NOT WORK WHEN YOU HAVE CROOKED AND INCOMPETENT LEADERS IN POWER.

Probably would not get approved anyway.....ain't no skybox tickets or travel parties involved.

gargoyle
24105
Points
gargoyle 08/18/13 - 08:12 pm
0
1
The idea of repurposing the

The idea of repurposing the Patch sounded good at first but thinking about it Augusta has other properties that have been purposed for parks and never lived up to full potential. Lake Olmstead, Canal Park, Riverwalk, Eisenhower, Phinezy Swamp, Lock And Dam, Diamond Lakes to name a few that are full of potential . As soon as some of those properties are exploited to potential and maintained the idea of building a new park could be entertained. Till then keeping The Patch as a golf course and holding the commissions feet to the fire to make it cost effective would be the better answer.

Little Lamb
53872
Points
Little Lamb 08/18/13 - 09:11 pm
3
0
Absurdity

Countyman wrote:

The new urban park must be located in the Augusta Exchange.

Who died and left you dictator?

There is no requirement for a new urban park. And there certainly is no requirement that such a park must be located in the Augusta Exchange. What former mayor Bob Young proposed is a reasonable idea worthy of discussion. Please do not stifle discussion, Countyman. Diversity of thought is a good thing. The word must stifles debate.

countyman
22957
Points
countyman 08/18/13 - 10:12 pm
1
1
How has Diamond Lakes never

How has Diamond Lakes never lived up to its potential? Almost all of the new residential construction in South Augusta is located near the park.

gargoyle
24105
Points
gargoyle 08/18/13 - 10:35 pm
0
0
Diamond lakes would be a

Diamond lakes would be a great place for a pool and splash park. If the city owns it the part between the old drag strip and ball park would make a good mountain bike trail. Has countyman pointed out any improvements would be supported by the growth around the park.

Little Lamb
53872
Points
Little Lamb 08/18/13 - 10:35 pm
1
0
Municipal Golf

Sorry, Gargoyle, but I think you are wrong about Augusta government being able to make Patch golf cost effective pay off. To do that, they would have to charge realistic greens fees — fees in line with other courses open to the public.

It is clear that many Augusta commissioners, chiefly Commissioner Bill Lockett, want to allow their friends and relatives to play golf at the patch for free, bypassing the posted greens fees. As long as greens fees are to be below market with taxpayers making up the difference, the Patch is a losing proposition for golf.

Auction the property to the highest bidder, no minimum, no strings.

harley_52
31249
Points
harley_52 08/18/13 - 10:36 pm
3
0
Turn It Into A Farm...

....use labor from trustee prisoners, people sentenced to community service, and able bodied welfare recipients. Use the produce to feed prisoners and sell the rest at Farmer's Market using the profits to pay costs of farm operation.

Little Lamb
53872
Points
Little Lamb 08/18/13 - 10:37 pm
1
0
Swimming Pools

Swimming pools are a death sentence for governments at this time. We do not need the city to build a swimming pool at Diamond Lakes. Diamond Lakes is fine as it is.

gargoyle
24105
Points
gargoyle 08/19/13 - 12:25 am
1
0
Your right LL we are speaking

Your right LL we are speaking of the Augusta Government , highly unlikely they could find the right people since they poisoned the well. But that area has a Aquatics Center and Splash Park so if another were built Diamond Lake would be the place to build.

nocnoc
63553
Points
nocnoc 08/23/13 - 07:39 pm
1
0
Sell it

Get it appraised by an INDEPENDENT unrelated appraiser.
Post it for sale nationally to be fair and draw the most $$$.
Then require the $$$$ be used to lower taxes and replenist the emergency fund.

Then clearly define, in plain simple language, (8th grade level) what an emergency is and is not.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Sentinel named in 14th civil rights lawsuit

A 14th civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the private probation company Sen­tinel Offender Services, this time in the U.S. District Court’s Brunswick Division.
Search Augusta jobs