2013-11-21 / Letters to the Editor

Golf and arts should be separate pastimes

Your news about the planned new clubhouse for the Jamestown Golf Course that the council will initiate is to be welcomed (“Architects unveil estimates for new clubhouse,” Nov. 7). But in its undertaking, those concerned need to take some serious issues into consideration.

The proposal to intermingle a golf course and its club with a cultural “village” would be unprecedented and impractical. The annual and ongoing improvements made by the Mistowski family have made Jamestown recognized in golf circles as one of the best and most beautiful courses in the state. When I attend meetings with other golf course presidents, invariably the course is praised for now being one of the most respected and enjoyed. This is reflected in the fact that in the past five years, the Jamestown Golf Club membership has more than doubled, from 70 member to 150.

In addition to serving athletes of Jamestown, the course draws hundreds of golfers to the town weekly. In fact, the clubhouse at the golf course already draws nongolfers for its food and friendly ambience, all within a true clubhouse setting. Some 15 weekly golf leagues, as well as other players from the public, use the golf course each week and bring their business into the center of town. Adding a whole new range of community activities would be unwise and unnecessary. There must be, in a community as large as Jamestown, other space for such activities.

In earlier discussions on the needs for a new clubhouse, golfers have emphasized that if the present facility must be replaced, their needs are simply for a limited and updated version of the status quo. They certainly do not wish for high levels of capital and running costs that might be passed on to them as prime users. Figures for early estimates emphasize that introduction of cultural facilities to the site would at least double the cost of the project.

An unusual and unnecessary mix of a sports facility with a cultural building triggers another range of problems. Sports and arts are two quite different worlds. Golfers are subject to a range of both written and unspoken rules. Not a few of those are for safety. Golf balls unfortunately land in places not intended, and present a danger to visitors and especially children to proposed new sites right on the course. The introduction of general public activities into a golfing environment carries inevitable risk. They also change the specific character and purpose of the environment - one that the townspeople voted on years ago when they chose to preserve the open space specifically for golf.

As the new town administrator has noted, arts also are an “enormous part of the character of Jamestown” and they deserve their own space. For the well being of all, this space should certainly not be in the middle of a golf course. We should not be looking to radically change the successful path of the Jamestown Golf Course as it now exists.

Chip Young

Editor’s note: The author is president of the Jamestown Golf Club.

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