Vitriol Toward Golfers And Golf Courses Counterproductive


By COLE PAFFETT
Los Alamos

I agree with Mr. Warren that the PRB’s recent decision to advance Option A for the golf course expansion was not the best decision.

Personally, I felt that Option D was the most ideal option as it minimized the impact to the surrounding open space while still meeting the goals of our county’s golfing community. I frequently mountain bike on our trail network and I don’t wish to see a section of the Walnut Canyon Rim trail relocated as it provides excellent singletrack for bikers and hikers.

While I am by no means a golf enthusiast, I have played a few rounds at the golf course and respect the desires our golfers have for improving the golf course.

I do take umbrage with Mr. Warren’s vitriol and invective towards the golf course, LAGA, and the county golfing community. It’s counterproductive to the effort by all stakeholders to find an amicable solution for expanding the golf course. LAGA has a right to make their preferences known just like the open-space community has a right to make their preferences known; the PRB is free to choose the option which they feel best benefits the community (golfers, open space users).

Mr. Warren’s claim to only be upset at LAGA and those supporting the expansion yet advocate for removing county tax revenue from supporting the golf course, is disingenuous and vindictive.

Antagonism towards the county’s large recreational facilities has been a recurring theme in this community. I can recall multiple letters to the editor and op-eds in the 90s and 00s claiming the Aquatic Center was a white elephant, only benefitted a small section of the community, and should either be run like a business or torn down to build a parking lot lot. Those letters and op-eds were especially galling to me because my family was one of the many who used the Aquatic Center daily as members of the Aquatomics and Pajarito Aquatic Club. Because of that experience, I’m sympathetic to our golfers when they’re attacked by members of the community.

Mr. Warren’s op-ed is just another example of the antagonistic attitude some in the community hold towards the county recreational facilities they don’t use.

Looking at the most recent county budget, the golf course does not have the largest budget of any of the county’s main recreation facilities (excluding parks and open space); that would be the Aquatic Center. I doubt any of our public recreation facilities generate enough income through fees to operate without county financial support. In fact, most public recreation facilities require financial support from the government to remain viable. Mr. Warren’s demand to run the golf course like a business is asinine. If we applied that practice to every one of the county’s recreation facilities, none of them would be self-sufficient and they would all close.

The golf course is more than just a golf course. In the evening, after golfers have finished playing, it becomes an open space for the community to walk around until sunset. In the fall it hosts the high school cross country invitational. In the winter it’s frequently the place where toddlers learn to ski; in fact, my first turns were made at the age of 3 down one of the hills at the golf course. The golf course isn’t a “blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars”; it’s a community asset that benefits more people than just golfers.

Since Mr. Warren frequently mentions taxpayer support of our recreational facilities, I think it’s worth noting that the biggest taxpayer in the county has said nothing about how its tax dollars are used with regards to our recreational facilities. In case he’s unaware, that taxpayer would be Triad National Security. Additionally, his assertion that the county has spent more money on the golf course as compared to the Aquatic Center is only true because the golf course is 40 years older than the Aquatic Center and its facilities needed replacement in the early 00s.

Since the Aquatic Center opened, its operating budget has been larger than the golf course. Additionally, the Aquatic Center has required significant and expensive maintenance to remain operational, along with the Leisure Lagoon addition. If we include the costs of building the Aquatic Center and the golf course, the result is that the county has spent a considerable amount of money on both the golf course and the Aquatic Center. Remember, the golf course was built using federal tax revenue instead of county tax revenue. With that established, Mr. Warren’s assertion that “the amount of tax money spent to support these facilities pales when compared to the uncounted millions of dollars taxpayers have been forced to spend on the golf course over the decades” falls flat.

I don’t know why Mr. Warren feels he needs to denounce and castigate the golf course along with the Los Alamos golfing community so vehemently. I can think of no rational reason for his disgust towards the golfing community. Apparently, the presence of the golf course next to some of the trail network offends him. If those trails don’t meet his needs, he’s free to follow the same advice he gave to golfers in his op-ed: get in his car and find trails to hike elsewhere.

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