Pacer Notes: The future of the golf course
Golf takes time. A time set up to play, hours spent on the course, years trying to perfect your swing, and countless minutes searching for lost golf balls. So it is no surprise that it is taking a lot of time for the community to decide the course of action for the future of the Lake Oswego Municipal Golf Course.
Although neither of my parents play golf, I decided to learn the sport when I was 9 years old. My grandfather is a good golfer, and I wanted to surprise him when I visited later that spring. The other reason I started playing was because the city golf course lies on the other side of the chain-link fence in my backyard, so transportation would never be a problem.
Every spring, when I hear the lawnmower on the course and smell the fresh-cut greens, memories roll back to me. The times I hurled my clubs over the fence and began to climb over quickly to get to my junior club lessons, once getting stuck on the fence's wire and ripping my pants. After that, bicycling with my clubs became a better option.
I remember being the only girl in a group of 50 students during a summer program, but making friends anyway. And on days when the hot sun was overpowering, we would just walk the last few holes kicking the golf balls, talking, hitting drives with our putters — clearly working on the social aspect of the sport and hoping the instructors wouldn't catch us.
Although I have never been a competitive type, I signed up for a tournament at the course when I was 12. It ended up as a sudden-death playoff, where I scored a birdie (one shot under par) and won. Whether at the driving range or on the course, I noticed age or height or gender had little correlation with golfing ability.
Like many others who enjoy their experiences at this Lake Oswego treasure, I am concerned about plans to decimate part of the course, either by selling off land or shrinking the course to install other park facilities. With course usage down and increasing maintenance needs, City leaders are looking for ways to make the property more profitable.
In play are ideas such as selling land to be used for townhomes or duplexes, or adding facilities such as batting cages, a pool, a gym, a Parks & Rec headquarters and an amphitheater. However, these options are not necessarily better.
A trial concert on the golf course property last summer generated noise complaints. Even myself, a high schooler who enjoys some music with powerful bass, did not enjoy the walls of my house vibrating from the sound checks and music for several hours. The course borders dozens of homes in the Palisades neighborhood on two sides. Even if the parking lot expands, the traffic on Stafford Road and neighboring streets would exceed capacity, and could become a safety concern.
Some supporters of maintaining the 18-hole, par-3 course, established in the 1960s, argue that it makes money by adding to home values, which helps the tax base. But there is also value in adding to the quality of life for young and old. One of the best features of the course is that it is a multigenerational gem that attracts all ages, from preschoolers to seniors, bringing many together outdoors to enjoy both the game and each other.
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