The whole subject of golf courses being used in a manner other than golf makes my head spin.
Glenway in Newmarket, Ont., started as a subdivision development surrounding a golf course. The course design was okay, but the location was great.
Over time, the course was sold and the property owners who had golf course frontage were faced with looking at a new neighbor instead of a golf course.
The whole thing is a gigantic mess of hearings and hard feelings that continue today.
Glen Abbey was built as a championship course to host the Canadian Open. Jack Nicklaus designed the holes to accept multitudes of spectators and provided them with hundreds of viewing areas.
The RCGA, now Golf Canada, had the enviable position of constructing infrastructure for parking, TV and the onslaught of patrons.
Eventually, the parking areas were consumed by development and now it would appear as though the whole upper property is headed down the same road.
There won’t be much in the way of opposition because most of the homes around the course were not built adjacent to fairways. The course is separate from the development except for those along the west side of the property.
In Quebec, a golf course was built on land that is part of an airport. The government now wants to expand the airport. They own the land. As much as I understand the feelings of the people who have played there for years, I fear for the future of their course.
Harvest Hills in Calgary faces a similar dilemma, with homes around a golf course and owners believed they would always have the course right there. This argument will come down to money. Taxes generated through golf or taxes generated through lot levies, tax on materials, property, etc.
You get the picture.
The stories go on and on.
As a golfer, I often wonder why can’t everyone just leave us alone, but I know that can’t happen. Those lush green open spaces should belong to golfers who play on them, but non-golfers who drive by the golf course believe it belongs to them as well.
I hear the nearby residents argue about the loss of green space yet I rarely see them at the council meetings/hearings. They will let the golfers fight the good fight and pay money to read the story in the newspaper.
The whole concept of developing golf course land is not new. I think the situation has come to the forefront because too many courses were built, many with the idea that they would one day be developed.
I also think the municipalities where this is occurring have let their citizens down. When a party submits a plan to build a housing development around a golf course, part of the approval should be a clause in which the golf course developer can not develop the golf course land in perpetuity.
If they want out of the golf course business they would have to sell the golf course to the city or town for a pre-agreed amount. That way, they could operate it as long as they wish or sell.
I also have a problem with landowners telling golf course owners what to do with their business. They own it.
I have a friend who bought a course that included a curling rink, which was failing financially. The members of the curling rink demanded the owner continue to operate the curling rink, regardless of heavy losses.
They influenced the city to intervene, which resulted in an order to continue operations. The owner demolished the building as was his right.
Consistent with my thoughts of a week ago, I hope my favorite courses escape development as long as I am able to play.