Rochester community provides feedback to park board on local golf courses

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(ABC 6 News) – The fate of Soldiers Field golf course in Rochester has been talked about for months now.

The master plan for the park has been presented to the city council with three options for the golf course. Option one would keep all 18 holes, option two would remove nine holes, and the last would remove all 18 holes.

Avid golfers or not, the park board heard from dozens of Rochester residents at the Mayo Civic Center during a public hearing on Tuesday evening. Most expressed their feelings toward potential changes to the four golf courses in Rochester, mostly to Soldiers Field golf course.

“I would like to see all four courses in the city be maintained as they currently are because they all have unique aspects to them,” one Rochester resident said.

Some residents even said they wouldn’t mind raising the prices of season golf passes just to keep the four courses operating. These include Northern Hills, Eastwood, Soldiers Field and Hadley Creek.

“You know, our revenue expense is a big factor in the decision making,” Paul Widman, Director of the Rochester Park and Recreation, said.

The potential closure of Soldiers Field golf course wouldn’t just impact that course and the people that golf there. Area high school golf programs utilize local courses every day, which limits the number of courses available for other teams and the public.

“At Eastwood, the range and practice greens are filled with both the Mayo girls, boys, Century boys, and the public. Adding another team to the range would take away our practice time and ability to practice because of how busy it would be,” captain of the Mayo High School girls golf team, Avery Meyer, said. Meyer is also a coach for The First Tee Rochester at Hadley Creek, which she was a part of when she was younger. She said that’s when she learned how to golf and learned many life lessons.

Golf in Rochester has brought strangers together. From lifelong residents of the Med City to Mayo Clinic visitors.

“When I got here, I knew nobody 25 years ago. When I went to Eastwood, I was embraced in the men’s club…. I hear my story over and over again,” a community member said.

Some say it’s more than just a game, it’s a sense of belonging.

“It really includes you in the community, includes you in the city, and that’s a value I don’t know that we can capture with just numbers or dollar signs or those types of things,” he said.

And for others, it’s a family tradition.

“So we have four generations of municipal golf in Rochester just with our own family, primarily at Eastwood,” another Rochester resident said.

Others mentioned that the replacement of the four courses in Rochester offers each corner of the city and its residents to have somewhere to go pay a round and feel welcomed.

“Golf is open to everyone and that includes underrepresented people.”

The next steps for the city and park board include another survey that will take place this month and next. The park board will review the survey results and recommend them to the city council at the Nov. 21st study session.

Community members are also invited to attend in-person engagement opportunities at one of the four city golf courses. These are open house-style events that will provide residents the ability to ask questions and give their feedback on designated questions. Here are those dates:

  • September 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Northern Hills Golf Course (4721 W Circle Drive)
  • September 22 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Eastwood Golf Course (3505 Eastwood Road SE)
  • September 23 from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. at Soldiers Field Memorial Golf Course (244 Soldiers Field Drive SE)
  • September 28 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Hadley Creek Golf Course (2390 Hadley Hills Drive NE)