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Municipal Golf Courses and Serving the Surrounding Communities - Trick or Tee

By Mason Savage, A Good Walk Spoiled Contributor

The "Trick or Tee" event this past weekend at Mendota Par 3 is a great example of what golf courses can be in supporting Local Communities

If you poll the general public in America, there is this assumption that Golf is a closed off, rich man's game that wastes environmental resources to maintain the personal nature scape playgrounds to which they play on and to some extent, that assumption is right. Historically (in America), Golf courses are private or have greens fees and cultures that are barriers to entry. In addition to these problems, when there is a country wide housing shortage, it may seem foolish that these large swatches of land sit manicured devoid of public access while the very land it sits on could be beneficial to serving the public around it. Maybe the most famous "Anti-Golf Course" voice in the country is Malcom Gladwell, an author and podcast host who expresses a lot of the frustrations I laid out above. He makes great points and while I do think he is right about a lot of the stuff, there is a fundamental misunderstanding that golf is like that all around the world.

To see how Golf Courses of the world differ from that in the United States, let's take a look at the place golf started, Scotland and more specifically, let's look at St Andrews Golf Course. St Andrews is the oldest golf course in the world and is a Top 10 Golf Course in the World! Despite this high rank, the course is open to the public for play and on Sundays, the course is closed and it acts as a public green space for the city and the community. Imagine the nicest golf course in your area. How outlandish would it be if they closed on Sunday (forgoing all of that revenue) and had it open to the public (to potentially damage the course)? To us in America it seems unfathomable that such a thing would or could ever happen. This is just one of the many ways that in Scotland, Golf Courses act as a community hub rather than this exclusive removed piece of society.

I have long advocated for Golf Courses to open to the public and do fun events on the golf courses, especially the municipal golf courses that are owned by the cities in which they reside. Imagine if courses were shut down on week nights to allow for public green space or if the city set up a tarp and projector and showed a movie on a fairway after sunset. The list is endless for what events could be held for the public on the golf course. One reason however this is not the stance of courses is because they need to make money and for privately owned golf courses, I understand this stance. However, for municipal golf courses, I do not understand the need to make money. The Government provides services to the people and it should be viewed as a benefit that Municipal golf courses generate revenue not as the expectation. For those of you who think I am out of line suggesting that Municipal Golf Courses are a service to the community, I would propose you find me a service that the government provides that generates revenue. Last I checked, the department of defense hasn't ever generated any revenue but what do I know.

That aside, you can understand my enthusiasm when I saw that a local Par 3 Course (a municipal golf course owned by the city of Mendota Heights) was having a "Trick or Tee" event. The event consisted of a 4 Hole Loop where local businesses sponsored each hole, gave out candy to kids and allowed kids to put on the greens. While there was a candle lit path to follow, the course was essentially an open public green space. In addition to the four hole loop the event had music, yard games, complimentary concessions (like Apple Cider) in the thematically decorated Club House and even had a couple of fire pits in the parking lot for warming up or making s'mores. The event was totally free of charge and ran for a couple of hours.

It was awesome! This is what all golf courses (again, especially municipal golf courses) should be doing. This event, while simple and maybe sounding a little silly, is important as it provides local families things to do, gives local businesses a chance to shine and who knows, maybe this event inspires someone to pick up a golf club some day. Kudos to the Mendota Heights Parks Department and thank you for the awesome event at Mendota Par 3!


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