Monday, January 02, 2006

The Bear Trace Disgrace

So the Tennessean reports that the Bear Trace is losing money, and is being taken over by the State of Tennessee. Boy, that should really help. Nothing I want more than to have my State government running more golf courses into the ground.

I am a golf nut. In fact, I played yesterday (Hermitage) for the second year in a row on New Year's Day. It is now a tradition, I suppose. I have played a couple of the Bear Trace courses several times, Tim's Ford and Harrison Bay. These courses are really nice. But they are all out in the middle of nowhere. The Tennessean says today that "the decision was made to site the Bear Trace's courses not based on good golf sense, but instead to put courses in the districts of powerful state legislators."

Now, if that is true, it is the most idiotic, self-centered pile of pork shit in recent memory. It is one thing to get a state contract "awarded" to a local business in your district, but to build golf courses with taxpayer's money? What idiots.

My friends and I play a lot of golf, and often comment that it would be nice if one of the Bear Trace locations was close to Nashville. You know, the state capital, the city with the state's largest population? As it stands, it is an all day ordeal to play one, and it is just easier to go to Legends in Franklin or Hermitage or Greystone in Dickson.

The problem is, the state was copying Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which is wildly successful. People from all over the country take golf trips to Alabama to play the trail, spending those tourist dollars. If those yay-hoos down in Alabama can do it, surely we can do it too, right? So let's see what Tennessee copied from Alabama:

Hire a well-known and respected designer, and name the trail after him -- check.

Spare no expense when it comes to design and quality, in order to make the trail worth driving to for tourists -- check.

Put most of the courses in or very near the state's major cities to get local play as well as giving the tourists some non-golf options on their visits-- uh, well, is that really important?

Uh, well, yes it is, you dipshits.

So now the State is taking over operations of a bunch of really nice courses out in the middle of nowhere. The State already runs the state park golf courses. Montgomery Bell is one of the most beautiful layouts you will find anywhere. It is also being run into the ground by an underfunded state budget. The rough is usually dead, the fairways are full of weeds and the greens are like putting on shag carpet. When I play there with my buddies, we always comment that with a little money, it could go from a $25 course to a $75 course, easy. But alas, it is run by the state.

Apparently, Jack Nicklaus has an agreement with the state that the courses have to be maintained to a certain standard in order to use his name. Here's my prediction: The state will keep the courses up for 3 or 4 years and continue to lose money. At some point, the golf geniuses on capitol hill will drop the Nicklaus name and let the courses go to shit just like the state park courses have. Yay.

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