Your turn — Why the golf course should be kept open

Published 12:30 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The recent decision by the Farmville Town Council to close the Municipal Golf Course effective June 30 of this year should be reconsidered. Based on the report in The Herald, Council seems to base their decisions on four ideas which I believe are faulty: It is not a core Town of Farmville function, the course is unprofitable, some people who use the course do not live in Farmville, and money saved by closure of the course could be used for other things.

I believe recreation is, or should be, a core service of the Town. The course provides healthy outdoor recreation for those who choose to participate, both golfers and those who use the pool (when it is operational). There are no comparable facilities in the area. The Manor is a fine golf course, but it is too difficult and expensive for the casual player. There is no municipal swimming facility, a rather common recreational feature of many towns. In addition to its use by individuals, the course is used for tournaments by area businesses, by area high schools for their golf teams, and by the Township’s recreational programs. Businesses and individuals considering relocation to an area will look at the recreation available, including golf courses. I don’t think the value of the course can be determined only through the lens of a profit and loss statement.

The Town has been complaining for years about the course’s lack of profitability. Why a particular recreational activity must be profitable escapes me. According to the Town, the course loses about $225,000 annually. In the proposed budget for 2022-2023 of $21 million, this amounts to only about 1% of the Town’s expenditures. Even this loss could be reduced by taking steps to increase participation. The course has not operated anywhere near capacity. My experience is that you can expect to tee off without delay most times, and no reservations were required. The course could be promoted more. For example, it has been years since I have seen an ad in The Herald promoting an activity at the course. Another example: on heavily traveled Rt. 45 at Airport Road, there is a sign for the airport but none for the golf course next to the airport. As for reducing costs, it might be possible to save some money by closing the course during the winter months when participation is low and maintenance is minimal.

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The Town also complains about players that do not live in Farmville. They should thank them and encourage them to come! They subsidize the course for the residents by their use of the course (and paying extra to do so). It’s not like they are crowding out the residents. One nice thing about golf is being able to play different courses since they vary widely in challenges and surroundings.

The Town says it will use the money for other things. Closure of the golf course can’t be the only way to raise some money, especially in a time of low interest rates.

The abrupt closure of the course is scheduled for the time of year when participation is high and maintenance is critical to prevent rapid deterioration of the course. It would be better to close the course at the end of the season after potential buyers have had a chance to see the course active and in good condition.

The Farmville Municipal Golf Course is beautiful, well maintained, useful and irreplaceable. Let’s not lose it!

Note: I no longer play golf because of my age.

WILLIAM C. FIRTH was a golfer and is a Farmville resident. He can be reached at 434-395-1086.