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Op-ed: Rose Park golfers deserve the full 18

By Michael Zumwalt

First Published Jun 04 2014 03:35 pm • Last Updated Jun 04 2014 03:35 pm

So the buzz is that Mayor Ralph Becker and the Salt Lake City Council intend to sell off the back nine of Rose Park Golf Course and shorten the remaining nine holes so it will be cheaper to maintain. Meanwhile, Bonneville Golf Course will receive a complete renovation, turning it into a "premier championship golf facility."

In other words, Bonneville would be turned into a thoroughbred racehorse and Rose Park into a Shetland pony.

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This is all predicated on a study conducted by the National Golf Foundation. I recently read this 207-page study, filled with statistics, cash flow statements, and demographics.

The study does a nice job, deliberately analyzing every aspect impacting a course’s financial success. It even has a nice section on weather’s affect on selling tee times. (People apparently don’t like to play when it is snowing.)

It logically examines every detail, but entirely misses the heart of the matter.

The study states that the Bonneville area has a high median household income. And, well, Rose Park doesn’t…

It directly addresses ethnic diversity, saying, even if a golf course is in an ethically diverse upper income neighborhood, it won’t be a financial success. In case you missed it, this is a nice way of saying that "those people" wouldn’t want to play golf.

In fact, the area is even "worse" than they imagined for a golf course. The study listed percentages of Latinos, African Americans, and Asians. But they didn’t think to include Polynesians and Samoans.

One real estate web site characterizes the Foothill neighborhood surrounding Bonneville as where "urban sophisticates" live. A place for those who love the Symphony, art, ballet, live theatre, travelling, and biking. You know, the mayor’s crowd. In all fairness, I fit into that group as well.

The mayor says all he hears about is the need for more bike trails. It makes sense. We tend to listen most to those who are most like us.

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I admit I had not played Rose Park until my daughter joined the West High Golf Team that plays out of Rose Park. Since then, I have played it regularly.

A couple of weeks ago, I was paired with a very polite, smiling 74 year old Polynesian man. The round was marvelous, except that he soundly beat my butt. Not only was he gracious, he invited me to play with him the next week.

During the round, he mentioned he carefully pays attention to his money so he can play at Rose Park.

The Foothill area has Bonneville, the Zoo, the Natural History Museum, Red Butte Gardens, the Huntsman Center, and more. Wouldn’t you think that we could at least allow Rose Park to have its 18-hole golf course?

Rose Park Golf Course needs a new water system. The cost of water is eating the course’s lunch. Why not a bond issue for these needed improvements? We do a nice job of issuing bonds to entertain my crowd, the Urban Sophisticates. We’ve funded everything, except eye drops for fish. Yet, we won’t for Rose Park?

Many think that the all white City Council plus the all white Mayor are on a direct course to follow the recommendations of the study. It’s a study that would warm the heart of Donald Sterling.

If they do so, they have missed the heart of the matter.

Michael Zumwalt has lived in the Marmalade District of Salt Lake City for 17 years.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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