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Letter: Golf course editorial seemed a little rough

I believe we are best served to let the golf resurgence play out rather than assume it will fade to pre-pandemic numbers.

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Reading the opinion piece titled “Let golf course be part of a greater (w)hole” left me believing the Post Bulletin’s Editorial Board holds a narrow and short-sighted vision of Rochester’s park system.

While I agree that the city needs to act and act reasonably, I do not agree that a city center location for pickleball, curling, aquatic center, arboretum/botanical gardens, dog park and picnic grounds will best serve our community. Packing so many facilities into the Soldiers Memorial Field footprint will increase congestion and decrease access to many who are expected to use them. Is a downtown site best for our young people looking for a swimming pool? Is it the best location for a community curling rink? Or another dog park? Or pickleball? Or more picnic grounds?

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The NGF Study stated that if Soldiers Field Golf Course is closed, 15,000 of approximately 30,000 rounds currently played there would be lost. The remaining 15,000 rounds could be played at the other city courses. Data suggests we play May through October with shoulder seasons in April and November. Those few months host all high school events, fundraising tournaments, leagues, league events and championships, as well as open play.

My point is this: Our community spreads out miles from the city center now, and the city should consider creating new facilities where most people actually live, which is outside of downtown. There is plenty of land, including under-used parkland that could accommodate any or all the facilities you mention in your opinion piece.

I also challenge your assertion that “Rochester’s golf courses are currently a drag on our city budget.” It may be the only Park and Recreation facility to exceed break even over the last few years and exceed by enough to help support other Park and Recreation programs. Your contention that the resurgence of golf may be temporary is speculative, and I contend that the hundreds of people who discovered golf during the pandemic will continue to play. Other programs support the future of golf by introducing young people to the game: The First Tee, youth camps and our high school golf teams who consider our city courses their homes.

Finally, I agree with your approach to proceed with caution and vision. And in line with that thinking, I believe we are best served to let the golf resurgence play out rather than assume it will fade to pre-pandemic numbers. In this case, your guess is as good as mine.

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Ross Messick, Rochester

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