Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Golfers Are Caught in the Middle in Plans to Redesign Forest Park

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Golfers Are Caught in the Middle in Plans to Redesign Forest Park

Article excerpt

Golfers say they want a voice in the plan to redesign the golf courses at Forest Park, which is part of the master plan to refurbish the municipal park. City Hall says it wants golf off Art Hill and the surrounding basins and wants to move forward with the proposals quickly.

One entity that has no desire to get involved in the process one way or another is American Golf Corp. All it wants to do is run the place.

"We're tenants of the park and have a contract with the city of St. Louis," golf course general manager Leonard Martin said. "Any decisions regarding changes to the park are going to be in the hands of St. Louis. We'll be directed by whatever their decisions are and whatever they are, we'll be happy tenants and capable managers. We're not involved in the pros and cons."

American's 20-year lease to manage the golf at Forest Park, which includes an 18-hole course and a 9-hole course, runs through the year 2007. The city hired Hale Irwin's golf architecture company to design changes to the courses which would be compatible with the master plan's objective to utilize the grand basin and other areas for recreational purposes. The grand basin is in front of the art museum and currently constitutes the No. 3 fairway on the 18-hole course.

The design company came up with several plans, two of which are being seriously contemplated. One would include 27 holes with little or no practice facilities. The other would include 18 holes with practice facilities. Whatever designs are accepted, new or old, American will carry on.

"We're going to be able to respond," Martin said. "If it stays the way it is, we're happy. If it changes, I'm sure we're coming along and adapting to the changes as well."

American's neutral stance rubs some the wrong way, however. A meeting at the golf course was proposed, among the golfing public and others involved in the master plan, to discuss the situation. But American declined to allow the meeting on the grounds.

"We don't want to be a determining factor," Martin said. "The citizens know what they want. If the powers that be want this or that, then that's what we'll have.

"We hear the golfers talking, but we wouldn't want to represent them. If they decide they want a certain presentation of golf, we're going to give that to them."

Those who want to be part of the decision-making process still can. A group of concerned golfers will meet at the Forest Park pavilion at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the issue. And the public can attend the final meeting on the master plan proposal Nov. 18 at the Art Museum. Mayor Freeman Bosley has indicated he wants a master plan ironed out and submitted no later than Dec. 15.

Add another Ryder Cup-style tournament to the local golf mix for next year. Gateway pros Jerry Tucker and John Hayes have reached an agreement with Fox Run to hold a match-play tournament May 17-18 which will pit the top 12 Gateway PGA pros against the top 12 area amateurs. …

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