Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When a Golf Course Closes!

Shock for its neighbors regularly follows the closing of a golf course! A significant question is posed by the circumstances: What can we do with all this land? Of course, there are those who want to make the answer to the question as profitable as they can; however, a community shouldn’t act too quickly on proposals to develop the land. Town leaders should naturally wonder if there aren’t some golden opportunities here for the residents and citizens of their community.
by Charlie Leck

I trembled when I heard the guy say it. He had just told me that the Minnesota Prison Board was looking at the 250 acre piece of property next to my home and land. A private golf club that stood there was struggling and it looked like it was going to close according to an article in the local paper.

“You’ve got to be kidding?”

I felt my face and body grow red hot as I asked him. I couldn’t imagine it. Our wonderful home? Next to a prison?

Suddenly my friend realized that he might be carrying a joke too far. He chuckled nervously.

“No, I’m just kidding I just read the story in the paper. Is it true? Has the club folded? You are a member, no?”

Well, that story turned out just fine, thanks to some miracles and a knight on a shiny, white horse. The club is in safe hands and it has made numerous improvements that make it attractive to new members and it is rolling along well.

But, now another golf course in the area (oh, about six miles away) has given up. It had been a privately owned course open to the public. The owner had simply lost too much money. He needed to bail! He did. Now, suddenly, all those folks who lived around a lovely, generously green piece of land, with pretty groves of trees here and there, are hearing it will be turned into lots for nearly sixty houses. And each house will have its own individual septic system. Well, I flash back to that instant when I heard, without knowing it was a joke, that I might have a prison across the road from my house and property.

Oh, my! I feel so sorry for all those folks who live around the land on which Lakeview Golf Course had been built. It has been a golf course for 50 years. And now – suddenly – it might be a large, suburban housing project.

Is this just one more story about an unimaginative suburb making a quick decision that will be regretted years from now? Isn’t there more imagination around than that?

Aren’t there opportunities here that are golden? Don’t suburban communities just ache for better parks, playgrounds and open spaces for their residents? Must we crowd ourselves even more? Must we increase the traffic on our roads again!

Here is an opportunity that this community will likely never have again. They pledged themselves some time ago to protecting and preserving open spaces. Was it just easy, big talk back then?

Do those in charge of suburban communities ever dream big? Are they able to visualize beautiful? Are they able to imagine lovely? Are they able to look beyond first impulses to grand opportunities?

This is land just mere steps away from one of the most beautiful lakes in the world! And you’d think of putting nearly 60 individual septic systems on the land out there? The North Arm of Lake Minnetonka nearly abuts the land and Stubbs Bay and Maxwell Bay are so nearby. Could this not be one of the most beautiful parks in the entire metropolitan area?

For goodness sakes! Who is the Mayor out there? I’m told she’s an uncommon woman – a woman who thinks and dreams big and beautifully, and a lover of the lake and the land around it! Now we shall find out if she is also a creative leader – or just another ordinary follower and political hack.

For God’s sake (and I mean it), don’t just do another housing development on one of the prettiest pieces of land in your community. Wake up! Think big! Dream! This is the time for the “Beckoning of Lovely!”*

*The term is one I borrow from the spectacular
Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who coined it!


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  1. You may be interested in this link dealing with a country club in the Cleveland suburbs which was taken over by the Cleveland Metro Park system -

  2. I graduated with Grant, who owns both courses you refer to. His Dad started them originally. It had been a dairy farm. I played at the 9 hole course for years and our class reunions we played the 18 hole. It is hard to see change, but sounds like there was some thoughtful planning they presented to him. Hard to find someone who is young and wealthy enough to carry on with such operations now. A sign of the times?