Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recreational Hazards

Let me preface today's "My Two Cents" with the fact that I am an 11-handicap golfer--which according to the United States Golf Association--puts me in the top 25% of golfers in the country.  But that does not mean that I am immune to the pressure that comes from seeing water down the right-hand side of a fairway (when my most common miss is a push-fade) or that I never chunk one when I have to carry water to get to a green.  But I think those protesting the addition of stormwater retention ponds as water hazards on Reid Municipal Golf Course need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

I play Reid about three or four times a year--usually in the Fox Cities Amateur or the Appleton City Tournament.  It's a nice little course that is usually in very good condition and that presents a fair challenge for both the location and the price.  It already has the two things that inflate my score--out of bounds on several holes, and large trees that you just can't blast the ball over.  What it doesn't have is a lot of water in play.  The lone pond on the course affects one hole--while an ugly, concrete "stream" scars a few holes on the back nine.  I've seen more than a few guys go down into the "berm" and try to play out--scratching the heck out of their wedges just to save one stroke.  So I wouldn't mind seeing a few more ponds put into play.

I realize the construction of those retention ponds will force the shutdown of at least a third of the holes on the course for one season--and that is a major concern for those who have had their leagues, tournaments and outings at Reid for years now.  But let's keep in mind that Lakeshore Municipal here in Oshkosh was closed for an entire year to deal with its major flooding problems--and most players would agree it was worth the shutdown for the improved playing conditions since.  And if you are worried about losing a few more balls every summer, you probably shouldn't be playing the expensive Tour balls anyway.  Besides, water hazards make a course even better.

Think about it.  If you had to name the greatest golf holes in the world--the vast majority of them have water hazards.  Every hole in Amen Corner at Augusta National has water in play.  So does 15 and 16 at Augusta.  18 at the Blue Monster at Doral....18 at Carnoustie has the berm crossing the fairway twice...the 7th, 17th and 18th at Pebble Beach have a little pond we like to call the Pacific Ocean in play--where the drop zone is in Hawaii.  And of course, the most iconic hole in golf--the 17th at TPC Sawgrass--is just a tee, a green and a whole lot of water.  (Now would be a perfect time to mention that I hit the green at 17 while playing Sawgrass last February).

So I'm asking my fellow golfers to calm down a bit and let a designer take a look at what the city wants to do to help Reid's neighbors deal with unwanted flooding and standing water in their yards.  It sure beats the alternative of the City Council shutting it down and turning it into a housing development as has been suggested in the past.

No comments:

Post a Comment