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Golf Group Seeks to Keep Both Duluth Public Courses Open

Baihly Warfield
Updated: April 11, 2018 06:18 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - In 2017, golfers were hitting the links by this time. While it may still be a few weeks before courses are open this year, many of Duluth's golfers have been working hard in the offseason.

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Friends of Duluth Public Golf formed about three months ago to help look for solutions to the city's public golf financial struggles. 

"You have to be part of the solution to help correct the problem," Rob Lucas, one of the group's members, said. 

Losing money has been par for Duluth's courses over the past several years. In 2018, Enger and Lester Park courses are projected to lose $108,000. 

"We're trying to get on the same page as to do we agree with some of the numbers that are being thrown out and those sort of things, so we're really just trying to understand the problem," FoDPG President Chris Stevens said. 

A few months ago, the city began to take a serious look at whether it was sustainable and responsible to support two 27-hole golf courses with taxpayer dollars. 

Several golfers spoke at a city council meeting, asking them for about six months to look into the issue and try to find a way to keep both courses. 

"It's sustainability, it's open dialogue with the city, it's a seat at the table," Lucas said. "It's kind of like a community service for the junior golfers."

Friends of Duluth Public Golf meets every other week at the Enger clubhouse. They have several committees, such as marketing, fundraising, finance, capital needs and maintenance needs to identify the biggest issues and ways they can help. 

"We're the voice of the community of Duluth public golfers," Stevens said. "We want to make sure that we have affordable opportunities for our constituents in Duluth."

Parks and Recreation Manager William Roche said the city and FoDPG are working together to "look into ideas for how we can affect a change in play rates to stem operational losses and what additional efforts can be implemented to fund the required infrastructure costs."

Roche said that Billy Casper Golf has done a "truly excellent" job managing the courses and working on them over the winter. 

"The infrastructure deficiencies will occasionally be apparent, but BCG works very hard to make sure the challenges affect the golf experience to the least degree possible," Roche wrote. "Golfers should definitely come out and enjoy a few rounds, the courses will be beautiful."

For many in the FoDPG group, public golf is a tradition. 

"It's been a lifelong activity for me," Stevens said. "It was kind of a cool thing that my dad and I were able to bond over."

Lucas said he wants it to be accessible for his kids and others in the future. 

"It teaches life lessons," Lucas said. "It teaches control, it teaches determination and drive. It teaches them strategy."

Friends of Duluth Public Golf is hosting a pancake breakfast soon:

  • Saturday, April 21
  • 8 a.m.-noon
  • Enger Park Clubhouse
  • Proceeds benefit Enger Park Junior Golf

Folks can get information on how to get involved at fodpg.org.

Credits

Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2018 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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