Golfers react to ‘final’ course decision

Published 10:54 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

Some golfers are alarmed over the Longwood University Board of Visitors deeming the public closure of its golf course as “final.”

“This is a decision that will be regretted by everyone who appreciates the few physical and social activities that senior citizens have left to keep up their health and happiness,” said Dr. Nancy Andrews, a Farmville golfer. “It is a denying of all kinds of learning opportunities that we could give our youth that also teach life’s values besides golf.”

She said the course gives the town class and offers history, being one of only three Virginia institutions of higher education to have its own golf course.

“I am sorry that the administration turned down six professional teachers and business executives who are retired and were willing to work for free for a year to show what can really be done with the course,” said Andrews.

“I think it makes no sense to close the golf course if they are going to continue to maintain the grounds with no income from golfers. It will just be another drain of funds for the school,” said Dr. Stephen Goldberger.

He said the other golf courses in the area — the Manor and the Farmville Municipal Golf Course — are not equal to Longwood’s course.

“The Manor is much more difficult and not amenable to walking. It is for experts who prefer to ride. The municipal (course) is far from town and less interesting in layout. The best course for most players is Longwood,” Goldberger said.

He said Longwood’s course is within close proximity, walkable and challenging without being difficult. He said the course is also affordable.

Local golfer Ronald Heinemann said Longwood’s course was nice without being overwhelming. “I think it’s unfortunate that Longwood has decided to close the course,” Heinemann said. “It’s an error on Longwood’s part.”

Heinemann said he is hopeful that Longwood will review the final decision to close the course, as it provides many uses for the local school system and elderly population.

Goldberger said he would be interested in seeing the Town of Farmville and Longwood come together on the issue, and allow the town to take over operation until Longwood has another use for the property.

“Leaving it fallow for an indefinite time makes no sense, when it is currently giving many different constituencies a lot of fun and pleasant interaction,” he said.

“(Longwood) states that membership is down,” said golfer Mike Kiehl. “However, one does not have to be a member to play. The university did little to promote student play at the course, such as providing routine shuttle service, rental clubs, organizing fun student golf events (like night golfing), having the ladies and men’s varsity golfers conduct free youth clinics, etc.,” he said.

Jim Simms, another golfer, said closing the golf course is a bad decision for a variety of reasons, including being a historic component of the university and preferred venue for locals.

Simms said “the finances are such that the difference in maintaining the golf course or maintaining the grounds after the course is closed are negligible.”

“What a shame to lose this valuable asset to this community,” Simms said. “The whole thing stinks to high heaven. It is just not necessary.”

Golfer Lee Bidwell said the Longwood Golf Course Preservation Committee has been working hard to get the university to reconsider the future of the golf course.

She said the group would like to see the course continue its current operation in addition to offering community activity, youth development and student learning.

“We are throwing away a piece of an athletic adventure that we will never be able to replace to even its present state after already allowing it to run down before it is closed,” said Andrews.

Longwood’s Golf Course will officially close to the public on June 30.

“Longwood is fully aware that there are members of the community who have enjoyed the golf course for many decades,” said Justin Pope, chief of staff to President W. Taylor Reveley IV.

“We take seriously our obligation to serve as a resource for the local community to the greatest extent possible — but only if we can do so consistently with our mission and responsibility as good stewards of public higher education.”