So when Weed (Bobby Weed Golf Design) heard more than three years ago that Palatka was in danger of being closed by its owner — the city of Palatka — he swung into action. After forming a coalition of business and community leaders to back him, he convinced the city commission to let him manage a course that had suffered from years of neglect and had dropped off from doing 65,000 rounds per year in the 1980s to barely 15,000 rounds annually.
The results? After overhauling the maintenance model, revamping the clubhouse staff and improving customer service, Weed, associate Chris Monti, superintendent Dana Anderson, general manager Andy Heartz and head professional Paul Trettner have brought the course on Moseley Avenue from the brink of closure to an example of what Weed says will be a resurgence of the public golf experience in the U.S.
“It’s like “Field of Dreams,” said Palatka native Ronnie Tumlin, who grew up playing golf at the course. “Instead of build it and they will come, re-build it, and they will come back. This course hasn’t been in this good a shape in 30 years and people are responding to that.”
Weed said Palatka’s story can be a model for golf course owners, operators and cities and counties throughout the country. With development golf at a standstill and country clubs losing members, there is still a place for a small public course in good shape charging modest fees.
During the golf-course construction boom of the 1990s and into the early years of the 20th century, public courses not associated with a development or a resort struggled. The tables have turned and Palatka can be an example, especially since it’s one of Ross’ most clever designs, playable for juniors, women or beginners, but all scratch players can handle from the back tees in tournament conditions.
And regardless of skill level, the pace of play is closer to three hours than the standard four.
* * *
Here are some examples of using creative design and a collaborative attitude to repurpose old golf courses.
This is, by the way, an emerging specialty business due to the enormous number of aging golf courses throughout the country.
Just ask Bobby.....
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