The future of Rochester golf courses

Created: January 14, 2020 05:55 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Every summer, Rochester resident Tomas Cantu hits the city’s four public golf courses.

"In summer that's how I exercise I walk the course every morning,” he said.


Director of Parks and Recreation Paul Widman said there is a loyal golf community in Rochester. 

“It produces anywhere from 80 to 90 thousand rounds of golf per year,” said Widman.

But over the last few years, he said the courses have gotten less use. 

"Golf, of course, is very weather dependent and we've been hit hard by some very wet springs and not so favorable weather throughout the golf season these last few years,” he said

At the same time, the tax investment has more than doubled since 2015. He said that’s mostly due to maintaining aging infrastructure. 

"Our subsidy has increased from about 70 cents a round and is inching up to three or four dollars per round right now,” he said.

On Monday, he shared the information with city council.

Over the next six months or so, council members will discuss the fate of the courses. 

"One of the options is to keep everything the same and have four courses and keep everything going the way we are. To the other end of it is we could go out and have a private firm run all four courses or not have four courses and go down to three courses,” said City Council Member Shaun Palmer.

A 2014 master plan for Soldiers Memorial Field looked at removing golf altogether or reducing it to a 9-hole course and adding more green space. The council will likely revisit those options. 

"A community engagement will get a lot of good insight into what we can and can't do there. What do people really need,” said Palmer.

Cantu hopes they keep all four courses open and public. 

"You get a variety of different courses so you're not playing the same course every day," he said.

They will not make any changes until after this season, so Cantu will get his wish for now. But in the future, there’s no guarantee. 

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