Golfers Speak Out Against City’s Closure of Lester Park Golf Course for 2020 Season
Mayor Emily Larson announced the course will be closed for entire 2020 season
DULUTH, Minn. – Golfers are speaking out against Duluth Mayor Emily Larson’s decision to close Lester Park Golf Course for the entire 2020 season.
“We wait sometimes until almost May, early May to start playing and we’re patient. And now we have nothing to look forward to,” said frequent golfer Phil Fitzpatrick.
Golfers met outside the Lester Park clubhouse, showing support for the course they call an important recreational resource in the city.
“We do a lot for tourists in Duluth. We don’t do as much for the people that live here, and this is the stuff that brings people back to Duluth, that keeps people living here, that gives us something to do, something to be proud of,” said Dan Baumgartner, president of the Friends of Duluth Public Golf organization.
Public golf courses aren’t completely closed off, though. The city plans to open 18 of the 27 holes at Enger Park Golf Course this Friday.
Golfers believe the city should make a similar compromise to open parts of Lester Park.
“You open 18 holes and you only have walkers,” explained Baumgartner. “Now you have less maintenance you need to do, less staff out here, less wear and tear on the course. If that’s still not an option, you can open nine holes and the driving range.”
Members of Friends of Duluth Public Golf are afraid this could be the end of the historic course.
They say the city has wanted to close it for good because of budgetary concerns.
The city has said they can’t afford to keep Lester Park Golf Course open, citing that both city-operated courses lose about $150,000 per year.
“I just think the mayor and the city councilors owe us some consideration instead of just making it a summary decision,” said Fitzpatrick.
Golfers hope to work with the city on a long-term plan for Lester Park Golf Course before a final decision is made about the future of the resource many golfers love.
“I know a lot of people are talking about where else we can golf, where else we can take our golf money and put it to good use. Two Harbors, Nemadji,” explained Fitzpatrick.
Under the city’s current plan, 18 holes at Lester Park will be operated through the 2022 season. The city will then review how it performed financially.