She says golf course closure is like the loss of a friend

Published 12:09 pm Thursday, August 11, 2016

It is with a heavy heart that I, and many others, said goodbye to the Longwood Golf Course.

This 80-year-old gem was closed July 1, no longer available to the public, which had enjoyed it for many years.

I have been associated with this course for 44 years — more than half my lifetime! I grieve that it is no longer valued for its history.

I spent most of my professional life teaching 10 golf classes each year to about 200 eager students.

They learned an activity they could enjoy for the rest of their lives. I am absolutely certain that somewhere, at this very moment, someone is playing golf who was bitten by the golf bug in my class.

The Longwood course was home to the intercollegiate golf teams — women’s at first, then men’s and women’s after 1976 when coeducation began.

Those teams, honing their skills on this nine-hole course, competed with distinction against Division I teams.

When they participated in the Division II national tournaments, Longwood’s women’s golf teams often won them.

Not only did the teams win five national championships in the 1980s and ’90s, but two players, Tina Barrett and Charlaine Coetzee, received the prestigious Honda-Broderick Award — the highest honor given to a player from all divisions nationwide in women’s golf.

These young ladies, both inducted into the Longwood Hall of Fame, went on to stellar professional careers.

It has been my pleasure to teach hundreds of people how to play golf — Longwood students, local citizens, folks from other states and foreign countries — most right here on the Longwood course.

Often I bump into someone I taught. Inevitably questions are asked. “Why was the golf course closed?” “What could have been done to save it?”

Former students call with the same questions.

Even former board members and their spouses have expressed concern. Longwood’s president had the idea only a “handful” of people are upset about the closing.

Not true.

But the president and board of visitors stood firm on their decision to close the course in spite of its history.

Now, my only hope is the president and board will reverse their “final answer” in the future and reopen the course.

Perhaps when the debate is over, they can realize more clearly that outreach to the public in many diverse ways is a fundamental cornerstone for any public institution of higher education.

Meanwhile, farewell, old friend!

Dr. Barbara B. Smith is a LPGA Master Life Professional, a professor emerita of physical education at Longwood University and is former coach of the women’s golf team. Her email address is bbsmith310@kinex.net.