Another sign of golf’s decline: DNR closes its only course

Golf has been in a decline for years now but from the sound of an article in the Mankato Free Press today, the patrons of Fort Ridgely golf course never saw the Department of Natural Resources’ announcement this week coming.

The DNR is shutting down what many people apparently believe is one of the most beautiful courses in the state.

“We go out there and see eagles, turkeys, coyotes, deer, pileated woodpeckers,” golfer Dan Brinkman of New Ulm told the Free Press. “The nature, the beauty of that park, it’s unbelievable.”

It’s also the only golf course in the state that’s run by the DNR. The course, north of Sleepy Eye, is a money loser. It lost $125,000 last year.

But here’s where the DNR owning a golf course in the first place was a bigger oddity: Just a few years ago it spent $1.5 million renovating the course.

“To shut it down now seems to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” Brinkman said. “The golf course could never lose that money if it ran forever.”

“It’s rather upsetting to me that we paid ($1.5 million) and they gave it six years,” said Don Firle, who runs a nearby course.

There was no discussion before the DNR decision was made. Some of the golfers the Free Press talked to said they would have been happy to pay higher rates to keep it open. They also said the “honor system” — there was no one to collect money after 4 p.m. — could’ve been replaced too.

More DNR: Anderson: DNR, Chippewa talks on Mille Lacs should be public (Star Tribune)