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A slicing salute to Soldiers Field Golf Course

Columnist Loren Else says city's oldest golf course is old-fashioned, but it sparkles in the heart of the city.

Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig
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Soldiers Field Golf Course, just south of downtown Rochester, is the city's oldest course.
Post Bulletin file photo

It is not often I read a newspaper article and think, "Whoa, that was an insult."

Rochester's Soldiers Field Golf Course has been in the local news lately. There has been discussion related to an assessment by the National Golf Foundation (NGF) report and the park master plan from 2016. A key issue is the future of this golf course.

During my career, whenever I encountered terminologies like master plans, assessment, re-evaluation, revisiting, or re-engineering, it was never good for the status quo.

Part of one sentence from the NGF report that I chuckled about was, "The shorter-length 18-hole golf course provides a simple design with less challenge that appeals to less-skilled and less-serious golfers, many of whom are seniors."

Yes, I resemble all those remarks, in particular, the less-skilled.

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Golf courses have been an excellent place to spend time during the world’s "crapdemic." A round of golf involves being outside, sunshine, exercise, no mask, hitting brand new golf balls into bodies of water, occasional profanity, and a cold beer "after-action" review of the round. I attempt to not cry into my beer.

I play four or five times each summer at Soldiers Field Memorial Golf Course. This is not a column insisting that the golf course be kept open or left precisely the way it is. I will not be carrying signs with the words "Make Golf, Not War" or "Power to the Less-Skilled Golfers."

These are tough decisions. Outcomes will be based on upkeep costs, budgets, revenues, staffing, land use, and a vision for the entire Soldiers Field park's future. Decisions will take time to shake out.

Golf courses are not high on many citizens "give a rip about' list. I get it. Life changes, priorities are altered, and land use transforms.

The development of this course started in 1925. According to a Post-Bulletin article, the NGF report indicated vital systems of the course are past their expected life. The course has a limited property size. It is short, yardage wise, and is the oldest municipal course in Rochester.

Therein lies the absolute beauty of this golf course. It is always in good shape, walkable for many, but playing it requires accuracy. When I play the course, I love the views of the city skyline as I come down certain fairways. The course is settled right in the center of our community.

You can sense the history of this traditional golf course with its mature trees, manageable layout, and proximity to the remarkable Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial and even the swimming pool, track, and ballfields.

I have never landed a golf ball into the swimming pool, but I have touched down a ball on Broadway. I have played golf with out-of-town Mayo Clinic patients who need golf therapy for a few hours. Golf is not a good walk spoiled but a pathway of recreation and occasional distress.

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Heck, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Soldiers Field – now that's big-time history.

Dave Linbo, who’s had city golf course memberships for more than 30 years and plays a lot of golf at Soldiers Field told me that as we age, the social aspect of golf is significant, along with having fun.

"Soldiers Field Golf Course is a diamond in the rough," he said.

I agree, it's old-fashioned, but it sparkles in the heart of the city.

It is precisely the type of golf course I hope our community can hang onto. Simple design, less challenge for all those less-skilled and less-serious golfers.

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Columnist Loren Else says America is the land of the free thanks to brave souls such as Bill Hollander.

For the most part, many of us senior golfers really don't even consider that less-skilled term an insult. We already know.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com .

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