GM explains “open golf course” challenges
By MICHAEL WHITING
A number of our members insist that we open our golf courses to pedestrian traffic. One reason we have so much outside play (which subsidizes resident play and has allowed us to reverse the downward trend in golf rounds) is because our courses look great, are well maintained and play well. Allowing non-golf activities on our courses open up the possibility of damage to the courses and injury to the pedestrians. That is why most courses do not allow such activities.
Another issue is control of pedestrian numbers and activities. How many can safely be allowed before it affects play and before it causes concerns to homeowners? Will walkers/bikers confine activities to only golf cart paths, or do they use fairways and greens? Will grandkids play in the sand bunkers and lakes? Will dogs be allowed? (We know from experience that not all dog owners pick up after or control their animals). Will dogs chase swans, ducks, geese? Yes!
If we allow pedestrians to use the courses before they open and after they close, will everyone honor the posted time restrictions? (Experience says No!). If we have pedestrians on the courses early in the morning, is there a danger or conflict with the large equipment: gang mowers, back hoes, grass rakes, aerators, etc.?
Our golf paths are designed and maintained for golf carts, not walkers, runners or bikers. What is the cost to renovate the paths to allow safe use by non-golfers? What about pedestrian path lighting? There is none. What is the cost? Allowing such activities will require widening the paths. At what cost? Allowing this use will require additional staffing. What is the cost for a 365-day-a-year program?
Pedestrian and biking activities do not mix well with golfers hitting a small, hard ball at 150 to 200 mph. Do we allow golf carts on the cart paths during pedestrian and biking hours? There will be a demand for this.
These are some of the questions we need to address before we invite pedestrians on our courses. We are studying how we might implement a limited program of this type.