Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday 3-27

I would like someone with experience in golf course design to take a look at the City's plan for Westhaven. I can't believe that what the city needs for stormwater retention can't be accomplished with increased water hazards and marshland within the existing course property. No disrespect to the folks in the engineering department at city hall--but they probably don't know what can be done within the confines of a playable course design.

Believe it or not, increased water on the the course would actually make it more attractive to higher-level golfers. The current Westhaven layout doesn't provide the greatest challenge--as on most holes you can hit it almost anywhere and still have a shot. With more hazards and unplayable areas, the course becomes more of a "target golf" layout--which better players seem to prefer. Will the weekend hacker enjoy it as much? Probably not. But then again, most guys aren't willing to admit they are hackers.

You might think that Westhaven being landlocked by development, there wouldn't be room for bigger hazards--but the first 100-yards of fairway are a waste nowadays, so you could run wetlands areas throughout the course and create forced carries on many holes. Another great idea--a couple of island greens surrounded by larger water hazards. There aren't many of those around here and they could become a major draw for the course.

Since golfers are masochists at heart, Westhaven could charge more for their more challenging layout. It would be a win-win situation with the city getting its stormwater retention function, and the course becomes a more successful business. A big difference from some past experiences the city has had buying up properties for redevelopment.

If we really wanted to upgrade Westhaven, we could bring in Pete Dye to handle the redesign. He would have no problem "Tiger-proofing" the layout--and the course owners could charge 200-dollars a round. A cheaper alternative would be Rick Jacobsen--who has designed a number of courses here in Wisconsin (see Thornberry Creek in Hobart and the Wausau Country Club) or Wisconsin golf legend Andy North who designed Trappers Turn in the Dells.

The biggest selling point of my idea--it should cost far less than 12-million dollars. According to the United States Golf Association the average cost to build a new course is less than five million dollars. To remodel an existing layout should be less than that. In addition, you keep the property on the tax rolls--allowing a successful business to pay for project cost itself.


  1. Rumor has it the current owner wants to sell. So you have to find someone who is interested in buying the golf course and wanting to run it as one first. I am sure the books show the current intake is less than ideal. I am guessing that's the biggest reason it's up for sale.

  2. Yup that's the flaw with your argument Jon.

    The owner wants to get rid of it.

    Call Mr. Stauffer and see if you can purchase it, then implement your plan.

  3. If the owner wants to sell fine- let the City buy it, but at a reasonable price. Do the items you mention and we would have another municipal golf course of a better quality than the existing one and still have the needed water retention without destroying many peoples property values!! The existing muny course just about breaks even, so another course city owned would be much less an albatross than all the other properties the city has bought recently!!

  4. "... without destroying many peoples property values!!"

    Who has information to support the idea that property values will be "destroyed"??

    More emotion that fact I'm betting.

  5. Omigod! My home will be on natural wetland! My property value will go down! Give me a break.

    In addition to engineering water holes, a new owner would also have to plant bentgrass in the fairways and fix the sand-based greens. When there's at least 10 other courses within 20 minutes of Oshkosh, no one's going to pay to play sinking greens surrounded by water and hardpan.