City to make decision on golf courses

A decision about the future of Columbus’ three city-run golf courses — including the possibility of permanently closing Greenbelt — could come as early as next month, when the Columbus Parks Board is expected to consider it.

The three courses, Otter Creek Golf Course, Greenbelt and Par 3, have been stuck in the rough in recent years, plagued by financial problems that have been exacerbated by inclement weather and additional revenue losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials said.

“We’ve been thinking about what to do about golf in Columbus since before the start of the year,” said Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop. “…We now have 54 holes of public golf in Columbus among Otter Creek, Par 3 and Greenbelt, and, as I said earlier on, our intuition tell us that’s too many holes, so there would come a time when we would need to review where we were and make a recommendation as to how we should proceed. I had anticipated that we would do that in the fall when we anticipate doing our budget for 2021. But the pandemic and the associated revenue loss has sort of moved our timetable up a little bit.”

Lienhoop said city officials are currently in the process of drawing up a recommendation that is expected to be given to the Columbus Parks Board next month about what to do with the courses, but no decisions have been made yet.

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The recommendation will be based, in part, on an analysis by Tobi Herron, president of Inspire Motives LLC, Lienhoop said.

Greenbelt and Par 3 lost a combined $48,957 in 2018, compared to a $6,006 loss in 2017, according to city figures.

The city assumed full control of Otter Creek Golf Course in January after Cummins Inc. decided to reduce its involvement in the course.

“We anticipate putting on the parks board agenda for July the question as to what to do with the city’s golf courses,” Lienhoop said. “They may decide to keep Greenbelt open, they may decide to close it, they may pick a different date. We don’t know yet. That is all yet to be worked out during the meeting. We’ll come forward with a recommendation at the meeting, but we’re not quite at that point yet.”

Greenbelt, for its part, is currently open but with restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19, Lienhoop said.

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