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Some 200 golfers and a handful of political hopefuls gathered Saturday at Glendale Golf Course for a rally to save the west-side Salt Lake City links.
Earlier this year, the City Council voted to close Glendale and Wingpointe. It had determined last year to shut the Jordan River Par 3. Mayor Ralph Becker has embraced the plan.
The independent Golf Enterprise Fund is $1.5 million in the red, and the city golf system has chalked up deferred maintenance in excess of $20 million.
Glendale has not been a money loser but has turned only small profits, according to a study by the Florida-based NGF Consulting.
Holladay resident Tim Branigan organized the Saturday event because, he said, it's important to the greater community.
"It really isn't about golf so much as it is about where a cross-section of Utahns come to play and be safe," he said.
West Jordan resident Craig Madsen held a sign that said, "Becker And Council Members Hate Golfers."
"We're here to save this golf course from the short-sighted politicians," he said. "They're closing one-third of the city's golf courses. It's ridiculous."
Both Glendale and the Par 3 in Rose Park will remain as open space. The future of Wingpointe is in the hands of the Salt Lake City Department of Airports.
Cindy Collins grew up in Glendale and plays the links often, even though she now lives in Taylorsville. The course, she said, is nothing short of "wonderful."
"The thought that they would turn this into a park makes me cringe," she said.
Cottonwood Heights residents Scott and Kathy Czaja have been playing Glendale for 30 years,.
"We're against it closing," Kathy Czaja said, "especially because it makes money."
Scott Czaja agreed that closing the course makes no economic sense. "If this were fiscally responsible, they would have community support," he said.
Former City Councilman Van Turner, who is again seeking the District 2 seat that encompasses the Glendale links, said one of the reasons he is running for election is to save the golf course.
Closing Glendale "is a disaster if you look at it from a business perspective," he said. "This golf course brings people to the community where they spend their money at restaurants and shops."
Mayoral hopefuls Jackie Biskupski, George Chapman and Dave Robinson also were on hand to criticize Becker for the proposed closure.
Biskupski said the administration has not allowed the golf system to be more successful. "Every initiative the [golf fund] board took to the council and the mayor has been shut down," she said. "Pitting golf against open space is not necessary and it's driving a wedge into the community."
Chapman said he has been fighting the closure of city golf courses for over a year.
"This is part of the community," he said. "It is a fixture in Salt Lake City and should be protected."
There is no good reason why the city's golf system shouldn't be funded, at least in part, by general-fund monies earmarked for parks and recreation, Robinson added.
"The fact that we are closing golf courses is very concerning," he said. "I have great concerns with the conclusions [the council and mayor] have come to."
The council's decision came after two years of deliberation surrounding two studies by consulting firms. The council also received a report from its own golf task force, one from University of Utah business students, as well as a report from students at Westminster College.
Funds to transform Glendale from a golf course into a multi-use park would come from a recreation bond expected to be on the November ballot.