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GM explains “open golf course” challenges

64 comments

By MICHAEL WHITING
General Manager

MikeWhiting_MugA 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.

  1. George Etheridge says:

    I agree with most of the comments above. Opening the golf courses to other activities would decrease the value of the homes on the golf course, decrease the privacy and security of residents on the golf course, and create a need for policing those areas. People paid more to live on the golf course and the SCW Board and General Manager are obligated to protect the value of our homes in SCW through good management and proper use/care of all of our facilities. Our General manager has more than adequately explained the reasons for not opening the golf course for other uses. A small amount of people don’t seem to care if they would create problems for other residents living here. Please don’t consider opening any golf courses for alternate uses.

  2. nancy hunt-petersen says:

    The inter-net description of SCW is a “golfing community for those seeking retirement”. Don’t people read information about the communities they have chosen to call home. They must have a fair idea of what SCW is all about before investing in this community. If golfing is not their choice of entertainment there is certainly many other activities.

  3. Marjorie Grant says:

    I do not golf but live on a golf course. I don’t want people walking in my “backyard” unless they have a golf club in hand and are just walking through. At least I presume that I could then fence or wall off my yard which is the only way I would feel safe. I walk four miles a day and manage to find lots of sidewalks to walk on although with the drivers around here it is somewhat dangerous, but I never lack for an area to walk.

  4. Ron Snider says:

    Allowing non golfers on the course would only slow down the pace of play. It’s called a golf course for a reason.

  5. T. Napier says:

    As a new resident who bought a home on the golf course specifically for the beauty and serenity it offered, I must agree that the golf courses should be reserved exclusively for golfers. Had we been told that the course could be used for other purposes by the general population, we NEVER would have spent the premium we did for the location we chose. We’re not golfers and we accept the fact that even though we own a home on the course, we have no right to use it for anything other than backyard scenery. Please tell me that this sort of decision is NOT a matter for the general population to vote upon!

  6. Hi T. Napier. As of right now, the golf courses are deed restricted to remain golf courses for 10 years. Whether that can be changed for temporary, special event uses is being studied by the Long Range Planning Committee. We invite you to attend their meetings for more information. http://scwaz.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/Committee-Schedule1.pdf

  7. Jim Kerns says:

    Before studying any question, you need to define the question. It seems to me that everyone is asking to use the golf courses for different activities; e.g., walking, dog walking, biking, motorized vehicle or cycle use, BBQ’s, frisbee use, horseback riding (?), grandkid play area, use during golf play, use after golf play, use during the day, use at night, lighted paths, wider paths, etc. I lived on a course in Washington that allowed only walking, on the cart paths, before and after golf use — period! No bikes or other moving vehicles. NO DOGS! No park type activities. Walking only, by residents, on the paths, before and after golfing, with a 9 pm curfew. It worked well for many in the neighborhood to get some limited exercise. How about trying that on one golf course for a year or two and see if it might work here? The cost would be minimal and the homeowners would notice very little invasion of their privacy. And for the record, don’t we all subsidize the golf courses every year with thousands of Rec Center dollars?! Perhaps those who live on the courses would like to pay this as a “privacy tax” for the privilege on keeping their non-golfing neighbors out of their “private” back yards. Just a thought!

  8. Alan Katzberg says:

    I live and work at a course in Nebraska that allows the golf course to be used for walking, biking, etc. It was “workable” in the beginning but has become a pet exercise area, hiking/biking facility, etc. This has become a problem and interferes with the golfing experience and nearly impossible to reign in. DON’T START DOWN THIS SLIPPERY SLOPE!!!

  9. Jim obrock says:

    Stop the silliness, stop spending your valuable time on this and get back to doing what you do. People shouldn’t be on the courses unless they are golfing. No one would walk the bases at the softball field during a game. There are places to walk and even when the course is closed, why would it be ok to be looking in Windows that are lit while you are standing in the dark?

  10. Dave Ricca says:

    At Face Value it sounds like a nice idea. However, do to Liability Issues, we must listen to our Insurance Company, and say No Way.

    A golfer pays to play the courses, and with that they Assume the Risks of playing. Trip & Falls, Hit by Balls, and etc.

    There are plenty of places in SCW where people can walk.

    Just my view.

  11. James Deibert says:

    I can’t belive we are spending time on this issue. Golf courses are for golf. This thought that you can let walkers out before and after golf makes no sense. We have tee times that run from early morning to about sunset. When do they walk. Before sunrise and after dark.
    Also how do you make a park? Who would want to sit out on a treeless patch of grass. I don’t live on a course but I would be very angry if I did and you opened it up to the general public. When I play golf I pay 35 dollars for the right to use the course for the use intended. Would you charge walkers to use it. Lots of luck trying to collect that. I think this is such a dumb idea that I’m concerned about our Rec board even considering this. You want to do more with the courses– open them up to goose/duck/coot trapping. There’s an activity I could support!

  12. Geoffrey Hill says:

    Stop the Con. You already got caught with the insurance excuse, credibility counts. Paths won’t need to be widened. Owners on the course already have outsiders coming on course because of your decision to let them on. I don’t walk or play golf, but if I want to go around the course I will. Stop making excuses and let people who pay the upkeep use courses. Golfers, plus the rest of us who are forced to pay with no say so to go around courses when there are no golfers playing. Keep the outsiders out. Your letting all of us down. The homeowners on courses don’t want outsiders around their property, but I don’t recall voting to open our courses up to outsiders. We had 2 burglary rings caught in last 2 years. All outsiders.

  13. Multimedia says:

    Good morning Mr. Hill and Mr. Deibert and thank you for your comments. Various committees within the Association have spent many years studying outside play and the future of golf. The results of those years of discussion are far too much to relay in a blog post, but you’re welcome to attend any of our many open meetings to give input and ask questions of our Governing Board Directors and committee members. For your convenience, HERE is a link to the 2016 schedule of our standing committees.

  14. cathy benson says:

    Golf courses our for Golfers, not for walking, not for pets we purchase our home in scw because of the golf courses, we have walking tracks and pet pay grounds use them.

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