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Cavern on the greens

Conditions at Hagerstown golf course are a mess

Conditions at Hagerstown golf course are a mess

October 03, 2004|by Randall C. Stevenson, Hagerstown

To the editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to inform the Hagerstown taxpayers that one of their assets is in dire need of attention. If you are a taxpayer and a golfer, you may be aware of this situation. If you are not a golfer, you are probably in the dark.

Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run is losing customers at a rapid pace. Observable play is dwindling quickly due to poor care of the course's greens. The greens at the facility are basically beyond repair. They have continually gone downhill since the retirement of longtime manager Al Seacrist.

I have been a member for approximately 10 years and Hagerstown was never a four-star facility, but for the last two years, the greens have continually declined to the current state of being unplayable. I still frequent the facility and tolerate the deplorable conditions, but use the course as a means of frequent exercise, with golf being secondary. Not many nonmember golfers will return to the facility after observing the conditions, and the only business base that I observe still contributing revenue to Hagerstown is other fellow members that tolerate the conditions and play frequently due to affordable membership rates.

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I personally know of six people who played once and vowed to never return. Herein lies the problem: Hagerstown is losing this business revenue potential. In my mind this course is potentially a gold mine for Hagerstown due to its proximity to a large customer base. But people pay greens fees to play on nice greens. I would like to commend the efforts put forth in cutting the grass and maintaining other parts of the tract.

It is very obvious that there is a total lack of skill when it comes to caring for the greens, though. I would like to suggest that maybe Hagerstown could consult their fellow governmental golf course, Black Rock, for advice and guidance on maintaining greens. Maybe their experience would also be valuable in determining the proper financial appropriations that are necessary to create playable greens.

I know these two governmental bodies have historically been uncooperative, but maybe this is an opportunity for the two to serve their common citizenry. Also, maybe Seacrist could be consulted for advice on how he successfully maintained the facility during his career. Due to the urgency (at least in the minds of the people who golf there), maybe the appropriated funds for cart paths could be used to repair the greens.

Maybe an outside group could be hired to only take care of the greens. Locally, Antietam Tree and Turf would be a good choice to provide the expertise that is required to create and maintain playable greens. A final suggestion would be to lightly aerate the tees and apply a light coat of sand to create a surface that would be more receptive to teeing the ball.

I recently played Waynesboro Municipal (an apple-to-apple comparison) and its greens were excellent. About a month ago, John Budusky indicated a few approaches that they were going to try to fix the problem and we had some hope. The situation has only worsened since then, leaving the impression that the keepers have given up. During one of the city's telecasts, Councilwoman Carol Moller indicated that she occasionally used the facility; has she used it recently?

The city's informational broadcasts indicate that over 26,000 rounds were played there in 2002. This equates to thousands of individuals using this facility per year. Don't you think that many people deserve at least playable greens? A published article in The Herald-Mail indicated that next year's annual memberships are scheduled to increase $0-$50: Given the tolerance of the membership this season, how can that increase be justified? Please do not let the significant investment in the irrigation system go to waste and realize the potential of this facility that the citizens of Hagerstown deserve. Any other golfers should make an effort to communicate their opinions.

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