The nine-hole Ponds at Battle Creek in Maplewood, Minn. would close at the end of the 2020 season, under a proposed Ramsey County budget. A study concluded that the county’s five courses were competing against each other because they were too similar and recommended differentiating them as a low-cost “value” course, a middle-range “standard” course and a higher-end “premium” course. But that re-shuffling process would leave out The Ponds.
The Ponds at Battle Creek, a nine-hole course in Maplewood, Minn., will close at the end of the 2020 season, under a proposed Ramsey County budget, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
“It’s a sad day. It’s a bummer,” said Mike Larson, who manages the golf leagues for the course.
Fans of The Ponds have launched a counter-attack, the Pioneer Press reported. They want to keep it off the growing list of metro-area casualties, which includes Hillcrest Golf Club in St. Paul and Mississippi Dunes in Cottage Grove. Their “Save-the-Ponds” petition now has 1,700 signatures.
“Golfers are loyal about their course. This will be hard news for them,” said Mark McCabe, director of Ramsey County Parks and Recreation.
It’s not known what the 90-acre parcel would be used for, the Pioneer Press reported, although affordable housing has been mentioned as one possibility.
“The good for the greater community has yet to be determined,” said McCabe.
The county issued its proposed budget for 2020-21 on August 6, the Pioneer Press reported. Part of the budget was shuttering The Ponds, one of five courses owned by the county.
“It’s the first step in realigning our golf portfolio,” said McCabe.
A recent study concluded that the courses were competing against each other because they were too similar, McCabe told the Pioneer Press.
The study recommended differentiating them—a low-cost “value” course, a middle-range “standard” course and a higher-end “premium” course, the Pioneer Press reported.
McCabe said that Goodrich will be the county’s value course, and will get $2.4 million in improvements in the 2020-21 budget, the Pioneer Press reported. Manitou Ridge will be the standard course, and will get $3.7 million.
The county’s premium course, according to the plan, will be Keller, the Pioneer Press reported. One other course will remain unchanged—the nine-hole Island Lake in Shoreview.
That re-shuffling process will leave out The Ponds, the Pioneer Press reported. The profitability of course depends on what period of time is being looked at. This year the course will make money, said Kevin Unterreiner, owner of twincitiesgolf.com.
“They are trying to shut down a debt-free, profitable recreational facility,” he told the Pioneer Press.
But McCabe said that out of the past 10 years, The Ponds has lost money in eight years, the Pioneer Press reported. That makes it the county’s worst financial performer of the five courses, he said.
The golfers of The Ponds have mobilized, the Pioneer Press reported. Unterreiner has set up a website, savebattlecreekgolf.com, to organize the resistance. He said golfers were stunned to discover the closure in a budget document by the commissioners.
“They were sneaky. They did not even tell the city of Maplewood,” said Unterreiner.
He points out that the golfing study opposes closing The Ponds, the Pioneer Press reported.
“In our opinion, we recommend against closing any [Ramsey County] golf courses,” said the report by the consulting group Sirius Golf Advisors, LLC. It said the courses could all be profitable “with county investment.”
The golfers protest against closing a course that, by all accounts is popular, attractive and well-managed, the Pioneer Press reported.
“It’s a very important course for the community. It’s a great course. It’s in great shape,” said Brian Simpson, director of First Tee Twin Cities, which sponsors golfing for 150 young people at The Ponds. “This is really sad.”