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iggywriter

Buhl Farms: Public and Free Course

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I came across this article the other day: 

buhl.jpg

Over 100 years ago, Buhl Park Golf Course opened as one of the best bargains in golf. Anyone could play free of charge. It remains that way today.

 

It's got me thinking about taking a weekend trip and playing a few rounds when the weather gets nicer. Has anyone here played the course?

The other thing that this article made me think about is really basic: Why aren't there more free courses out there? Can you think of any? I understand maintenance fee's alone would cost close to $200k, but you've gotta think that through sponsorship with the PGA, or the USGA, there would have to be some way of feasibly creating a series of true public links throughout the country. 

Thoughts?

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I know there are a few over here in the UK but with land being at a premium they are actually closing some course's in order to build houses (my home course is slated for closure in 2022).

For the PGA/USGA/R&A/Golf England etc. to sponsor them it has to be profitable so I couldn't see free course's being an option.

Public courses are a little different but a true public course isn't just for golfers, its a public space available for walkers and the like. We have one in Gotts Park Leeds. It was a council course that was closing and the members bought it. They charge £12 per 18 holes and its not "bad" but it isn't great. Sharing with walkers however isn't a problem as they do seem to realise its a golf course first.

For many many many years St Andrews was a public course but the private companies step in and turn it into a business. Sometimes this is the only way to keep courses running. I would like to see more munies and affordable privately owned courses but i'm lucky in that 20mins drive I have just that.

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8 hours ago, iggywriter said:

I came across this article the other day: 

buhl.jpg

Over 100 years ago, Buhl Park Golf Course opened as one of the best bargains in golf. Anyone could play free of charge. It remains that way today.

 

It's got me thinking about taking a weekend trip and playing a few rounds when the weather gets nicer. Has anyone here played the course?

The other thing that this article made me think about is really basic: Why aren't there more free courses out there? Can you think of any? I understand maintenance fee's alone would cost close to $200k, but you've gotta think that through sponsorship with the PGA, or the USGA, there would have to be some way of feasibly creating a series of true public links throughout the country. 

Thoughts?

A “free” course isn’t free.  Someone is paying for it.  

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8 hours ago, iggywriter said:

I came across this article the other day: 

buhl.jpg

Over 100 years ago, Buhl Park Golf Course opened as one of the best bargains in golf. Anyone could play free of charge. It remains that way today.

Sounds like a pretty cool setup.

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1 hour ago, David in FL said:

A “free” course isn’t free.  Someone is paying for it.  

No, obviously you're right in that it's not free, but only free - to - play. I guess where I'm coming from is sort of a roots thought here, because many of the first courses were played on publicly designated land, like St. Andrews. I'm sure that Buhl Farm's isn't the nicest course, but there's something incredibly beautiful about the fact that the course has never charged Green Fees. 

36 minutes ago, iacas said:

It's not that far from me, I've known about it for fifteen years, and I still haven't ever gone. Maybe this year. 😄

Oh man, you've been missing out 😉

In all seriousness, I'm likely going to drive down and play it in a month or so. You're more than welcome to come play a round with me (though I'd likely slow you down a bit). 

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5 hours ago, RussUK said:

I know there are a few over here in the UK but with land being at a premium they are actually closing some course's in order to build houses (my home course is slated for closure in 2022).

For the PGA/USGA/R&A/Golf England etc. to sponsor them it has to be profitable so I couldn't see free course's being an option.

Public courses are a little different but a true public course isn't just for golfers, its a public space available for walkers and the like.

I figured there had to be a few like this still in the UK. I get what you're saying with the PGA / USGA / R&A/ Golf England etc. , but places like these seem like such a good place to introduce kids and adults to the game for the first time. Partnership with the First Tee program (which Buhl park does do) seems like an ideal way of maintaining the relevance of these courses. 

One of the many reasons I think so many people don't start playing the game, especially when they have families and limited income, is because of the expense that comes into the game. I know I had to take some serious time away due to my own financial limitations in the past. Fortunately, there's a great muni course near my house that's pretty affordable to play ($12 for 9 walking; $20 for 18. $8 for 9 before 9 AM). With the great reduction or decline in courses remaining pretty steady throughout most of the USA, I'm wondering if re designating old courses as public parks (and still keeping say 9 holes instead of 18 or how many the city courses closing down used to have) would be possible. In my city, we used to have two 18 hole public courses maintained by the city. ROGC is still open, but Normandy Oaks has been shut down for years, due to dramatic decline in sales (something like close to 45% by the time they decided to shut the doors a few years ago). The city is now investing close to 4 million to turn it into a public park, and I'm curious as to what it would have cost if they had decided to keep a few holes for short game practice or even 9. In any regard, the new park will be a wonderful addition to the city, but it's sad to see a course just die.  

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8 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

 

One of the many reasons I think so many people don't start playing the game, especially when they have families and limited income, is because of the expense that comes into the game.

Completely agree. We are lucky in my local area that there are a number of really good courses that you can play 18 for less than £20 and even less for a summer twilight round.

It's such a difficult balancing act for many courses in this day and age in that they have to be priced low enough to attract business but but not too low as to affect the profitability. Sadly it gets to the point for some that the owners can make more by selling the land to developers than running it as a golf course.

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11 minutes ago, RussUK said:

Completely agree. We are lucky in my local area that there are a number of really good courses that you can play 18 for less than £20 and even less for a summer twilight round.

It's such a difficult balancing act for many courses in this day and age in that they have to be priced low enough to attract business but but not too low as to affect the profitability. Sadly it gets to the point for some that the owners can make more by selling the land to developers than running it as a golf course.

Housing and land prices are pretty ridiculous in my area, so the cheapest golf is at a municipal course. Luckily, the one in my city is pretty nice.

I also go mostly to public and only the occasional private course when invited. Thinking of joining a club after my kids graduate from college... 😁 just thinking about it because it’s completely contrary to my family’s basic philosophy of life to join what used to be an all Northern European lifestyle choice...🤪🙄😂

10 hours ago, iggywriter said:

I came across this article the other day: 

buhl.jpg

Over 100 years ago, Buhl Park Golf Course opened as one of the best bargains in golf. Anyone could play free of charge. It remains that way today.

 

It's got me thinking about taking a weekend trip and playing a few rounds when the weather gets nicer. Has anyone here played the course?

The other thing that this article made me think about is really basic: Why aren't there more free courses out there? Can you think of any? I understand maintenance fee's alone would cost close to $200k, but you've gotta think that through sponsorship with the PGA, or the USGA, there would have to be some way of feasibly creating a series of true public links throughout the country. 

Thoughts?

Sweet!

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So...bit of an update: 

I just got offered a job in Cleveland, which is only about 90 minutes away. Looks like I'll be playing this course quite a bit in the coming year. 

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On 4/18/2019 at 12:58 AM, iggywriter said:

So...bit of an update: 

I just got offered a job in Cleveland, which is only about 90 minutes away. Looks like I'll be playing this course quite a bit in the coming year. 

Why?

You're going to spend the gas to drive 90 miles one way to play a "free" (not all that well kept up) nine-hole course?

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

Why?

You're going to spend the gas to drive 90 miles one way to play a "free" (not all that well kept up) nine-hole course?

Philosophically, I like the idea of the course, and the job that I'll be working isn't all that high paying (so paying for gas in my car --- which gets 60 miles to the gallon doesn't really factor in all that much in terms of the price because a round trip will cost me about a gallon and a half, if that) but I'm taking it because it gets me a step closer to my end career goals. It's a good opportunity, career wise, and it also gives me a chance to experience a course like this and pretty much play all day and not worry about green fees (obviously I will be donating from time to time, so you can call that a minor fee). 

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On 4/18/2019 at 12:58 AM, iggywriter said:

So...bit of an update: 

I just got offered a job in Cleveland, which is only about 90 minutes away. Looks like I'll be playing this course quite a bit in the coming year. 

They don’t have better, reasonably priced courses in Cleveland?  

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Just now, David in FL said:

They don’t have better, reasonably priced courses in Cleveland?  

And I'll be playing them as well. No, it's more of the idea of the course is something I really admire, and supporting it is something I'd like to do (both by playing and donating to the organization that maintains the upkeep of the course). It's not so much the course itself, but the fact that a service like this exists, and that's what I like about it. 

I wish there were more places like these, funded by super wealthy people looking to contribute to society (the guy who founded this park made his money and gave back to the community; the offer more than just a golf course. It's a pretty incredible place from what I'm reading). 

Plus, it'll cost me only a gallon and a half of gas (if not less) plus whatever amount I donate when I play. Reasonably, I can't imagine paying less that $25 to play a course in Cleveland. If I pay that same amount with gas figured it, it's going to a really cool organization offering something nobody else is. 

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7 minutes ago, iggywriter said:

It's a pretty incredible place from what I'm reading).

Uhhhhhh…

We must have different definitions of “incredible.” It’s fine.

And I don’t think it’s 1.5 gallons round trip. It’s 150 miles round trip.

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3 minutes ago, iacas said:

Uhhhhhh…

We must have different definitions of “incredible.” It’s fine.

And I don’t think it’s 1.5 gallons round trip. It’s 150 miles round trip.

No I mean more in terms of the entire park system (they offer kayaking, trails, a butterfly garden, etc in addition to the golf course, almost all of which is free to the public. It reminds me a little bit of Belle Isle in Detroit, which offers several amazing amenities to the public for free). 

And okay, sorry. It's 2 and a half gallons then for me (which roughly boils down to $6.25 at current prices; average seems to be $2.59 a gallon). 

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Yes, I have played it. It is free but they do ask for donations. They also have a very nice driving range there. Right next to the Buhl free golf course is the former Sharon Country Club which is now part of the Avalon group with courses in the Warren Ohio Region.

 Playing this course when there is no school is not easy because of kids playing there. But I would rather have the kids there playing for free, and getting more kids interested in playing golf. In my area we are being hit with the closing of golf courses. Pine Grove in Grove City Pa., and also the Greens in Greenville Pa. Two nice courses.

One more thing...During Buhl days which is at Labor day they have a two person scranble for golfers over 50. It's just a nine hole scramble, but everyone seems to enjoy it and the people responsible for putting this event on do a very nice job...

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On 4/20/2019 at 8:45 PM, iacas said:

Why?

You're going to spend the gas to drive 90 miles one way to play a "free" (not all that well kept up) nine-hole course?

Exactly! There are TONS of better courses to play in a short drive from Cleveland that won't cost you an arm and a leg. May I suggest,, Manakiki, Fowlers Mill, Little Mountain, Tanglewood National, Sleepy Hollow, Seneca, Hawthorne Valley, and many others mere minutes from you. 

As far as your original question, why aren't there more free golf courses, it's because they cost money to maintain! This is hardly a mystery. I live in Youngstown, OH and we have a muni, the Henry Stambaugh Golf Course, that is no pushover! It's a tough design! But, there's little money for maintenance. The bunkers are full of weeds, and the fairways are full of clover! You are liable to be putting on greens that were cut 3 days ago! 

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