07/14/11 — Ditch to be filled near 14th hole on golf course

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Ditch to be filled near 14th hole on golf course

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 14, 2011 1:46 PM

Golfers with a tendency to draw the ball to the left in their drives will have an easier walk on Hole 14 at the Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course now that the City Council has approved the filling of a ditch there.

Golf course maintenance superintendent Joe Martikke said frequent players pointed out to the golf course management that they had to do additional walking to play the 14th hole of the course.

"If you hit your ball to the left of the fairway, you've got an obstacle there," he said.

That obstacle is a 120-foot long ditch that has become a hindrance to walking golfers and an additional burden on maintenance workers, requiring an extra two hours of work per week to keep the foliage trimmed and neat.

"If you close in the ditch, it will change everything," said Mayor Al King, an avid golfer. "It's going to be a big improvement in the maintenance of the course. When it gets overgrown, it takes an awful lot of time and effort to clean it."

The filling in of the ditch was presented to the City Council May 16 when Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen pointed out that the golf course needed to cut its costs and insisted that the council delay a decision about the ditch until after the 2011-12 budget's approval, even though the funding for the project was already in the department's 2010-11 budget.

By June 20, however, King realized what the project referred to and where the funding had come from. King said the golf course had scaled back its clubhouse renovations by $7,500 to create some overhead to use for the filling in of the ditch and he insisted the issue be re-addressed at the council's July 5 meeting.

King said at one point the course was looking at putting a bridge over the ditch, but it would still require the maintenance of the ditch, although it would allow golfers a better avenue to their errant ball.

"(Now you) hit the ball to the left and it takes a while. You just waste time," he said, envisioning a hole that is "green all the way" would cut down costs. "We won't have to worry about maintaining it. That's a tremendous idea. We've got to cut down on overhead at the golf course."

And Martikke said the move will do just that.

"It's an opportunity to reduce maintenance. It's the feasible thing to do because over time that project will end up saving us money," he said. "We're looking at ways to save labor."

And to do that, the staff will fill in all of the ditch, not just a portion of it, meaning the cost will be $1,400 more at $8,900. Interim Parks and Recreation Director Sherry Archibald said the original estimate was for an 80-foot pipe, leaving 40 feet of ditch needing continued maintenance, similar to a ditch that was filled in on Hole 1. The new proposal calls for 140 feet of pipe to fill the entire ditch and allow maintenance workers to simply mow over it.

As far as other ways for the golf course to increase its bottom line, a changing of the greens has been mentioned at different times, as the bentgrass the course currently has, although preferred by golfers, requires quite a bit more maintenance than ultradwarf Bermudas that have come into use more recently.

"That has come up," Martikke said, noting that the course now has a bentgrass L-93 and Crenshaw blend. "We don't have any plans on doing that at this time. That's not to say we won't ever, but right now we can't seriously look at that. Not for this year's budget."

Another measure to help the course's efficiency, which has drawn ire from council members, is an additional $1 tacked onto each green fee for players and an increase in membership dues.

King said the course's fees, which are reasonable, could have been raised quite a bit more without discouraging golfers from using the course.

"It's already a bargain and quite frankly thought it should be more," he said of the increase. "A dollar won't make much of a difference. I've talked to a number of golfers who thought we should raise it more."

The increases went into effect July 1.