City Hall G.C.

April 22, 2009

My colleague, Geoff, posted an item the other day about a Texas town that had a less-than-satisfying experience owning a golf club. It paid $3.1 million for the course, sold it a decade later for $1.5 million. Geoff's headline says it all: 'We Had No Business Buying A Golf Club.'

Today brings news of two municipalities getting into the golf business. It looks like Pennsylvania's Milcreek Township is buying the Erie Golf Club and Cape Coral, Fla., is moving ahead with plans to take over an operation known simply as the Golf Club. Both of these courses have shut their doors recently; without town help they'd probably stay that way.

Erie Golf Club has quite a pedigree. The great A.W. Tillinghast is listed as its principal designer, along with Richard Mandell. I should note this info comes from a couple of web sites and not from Ron Whitten's authoritative "The Architects of Golf," which does not even list an "Erie Golf Club."

Whoever designed it, the Erie Golf Club has seen better days. From an article in the Erie Times-News: "The city will remove large chunks of rubber among trees on the right side of the second hole and large pieces of household glass on the left side of the hole."

Cape Coral's course has been closed for a couple of years and has gone to seed. Its owner intended a mixed-use development on the site, but the economy ended that plan. Quoting from a report in the Cape Coral Daily Breeze: "Mayor Jim Burch touted the golf course's revitalization as crucial for a city trying to pick itself up after being knocked down by a severe recession. 'This could be the single most important thing the city has done in 30 years,' he said."

-- P.F.