Are public golf courses up to par?

By Liz Farmer | Governing

Standing on the 7th hole putting green on the municipal golf course in Rockville, Md., it’s easy to take a deep breath and forget about the traffic-clogged roads, noisy highways and rumbling commuter trains that cut through much of this bustling Washington, D.C., suburb. It’s quiet at RedGate Golf Course. So quiet, in fact, that it’s easy to hear the crunch of lifeless, gray grass underfoot while strolling across the once-vibrant green.

The financially troubled course has been closed since December, when the company operating it for the city backed out of its contract three years early. Turning management over to Billy Casper Golf, which runs more than 100 courses nationwide, was Rockville’s last-ditch effort at keeping RedGate open. Over the last three years, the course saw a more than 50 percent decline in revenue to roughly $550,000 in 2018. Billy Casper drastically cut expenses—which hurt the attractiveness and quality of play at the course—but still wound up losing an estimated $91,000 last year, according to the National Golf Foundation. 


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