EPA Offers $5 Million To Turn Golf Course Into Park

Fowler’s Mill Golf Course, located in Chesterland, Ohio, is currently in a state of limbo. The Environmental Protection Agency is offering a grant of $5 million to turn the 458 acre golfing haven into a public park. Needless to say, area golfers are pitching a fit and lamenting the loss of “one of the nation’s top public courses.”

There are plenty of advantages for a move like this. Turning the location into a more sublime park would protect nearly a mile-long stretch of the  Chagrin River. Bailing on a golf course in return for more secure water resources seems like a relatively fair trade on paper.

The downsides, however, are numerous as well. The course’s clubhouse, around 7,500 square feet, would be used at the Munson Township Board of Trustees meeting hall. Now that’s an element of the package that’s about as arrogant as any golf player could only hope to be. Another ridiculous facet of the deal is the money being passed around. Chardon attorney Todd Petersen bought the golf course of $3.3. million in late 2009. Although Petersen denies any foresight in regards to this grant money, the whole profiteering angle seems incredibly disingenuous.

Fowler's Mill Golf Course Clubhouse - The Possible New Meeting Place For Munson Township's Board of Trustees

Providing an interesting contextual background, David Griffith, tournament director for the Northern Ohio Section of the PGA, highlighted the fact that throughout the nation, “there are more golf courses than there are golfers and here in Northeast Ohio, we have a larger number of courses than most areas in the country.”

Griffith is on to something here. Golf courses are often much larger than other sports’ counterparts. The Golf Course Superintendents of America estimate that there are over 2 million acres of land devoted to golf in the US.

Losing one golf course doesn’t seem like a big deal – and, really, it isn’t – but there is a certain amount of historical legacy associated with Fowler’s Mill. Famed architect Pete Dye designed the 27-hole course, which opened for play in 1971. Some laud Dye’s work as a masterpiece among public courses. The Northern Ohio Golf Association has held US Open qualifiers at Fowler’s Mill in the past. Various rounds of the popular Northeast Ohio Amateur Invitational are sometimes played there as well.

The ultimate decision will be made later in the year – most likely coming around October. Until then, tree huggers and divot duffers alike will be waiting desperately for the news. Maybe Cleveland’s WKYC will run its own special edition “Decision” episode?

Then again, nothing is worth that amount of media hype.

So, on a semi-related note, here’s George Carlin ripping apart the uppity country club crowd with his alternative plan – and it’s a pretty sound one at that. RIP GC

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