Muni golf is popular, and let’s keep it that way

It is golf’s version of Buy Local.

Municipal courses often get derided with “Well, that’s muni golf” mutterings. But if there’s one takeaway from the recent push in the California assembly to turn those popular venues into affordable housing, it’s that we need to embrace our inner muni love before it’s too late.

For if munis remain so popular that they continue to make gobs of money for the cities in which they reside, any talk of plowing them under would be considered even more foolish than it already is.

Everywhere I’ve lived, munis have been like fast food restaurants among the dining crowd.

“Yeah, that place has great burgers, but it’s fast food. Where’s the really good stuff?”

The truth is, there’s plenty of good muni stuff in many towns. Maybe we just have to be more thankful for what we have.

Let’s keep in mind that it costs a tremendous amount of money to properly maintain a golf course.

Let’s keep in mind that cities could make a lot more money off of our great game if they charged country club prices for the muni experience, but that would be like charging $15 for a fast food burger. A lower price point makes more fiscal sense – more players means more money.

Yes, munis tend to be pretty crowded, just as the lines of cars at some fast food restaurants are long no matter whether it’s noon, 3 p.m. or 6 p.m.

You might have to be hardy to play a muni. You might have to be willing to wait on a shot once in awhile or deal with a fairway that isn’t as perfect as the country club down the road.

Again, think of the alternative. Do you want to spend upward of $100 every time you play? I didn’t think so.

I, for one, have consistently had great experiences on municipal golf courses. A lot of other people have, too, considering how crowded those facilities tend to be.

Sure, I’ve run into a few munis that were less than enthralling. The city had stopped maintaining the course properly. The tees were dirt. The bunkers didn’t have much sand. The greens were furry.

But that has not been the norm. Most munis are fun little tracks with plenty of challenging holes. If they get a little worn out from too much play, is that such a bad thing? It means that a lot of us are still enjoying it.

And let’s not forget the main reason we’re out there: We just want to be outdoors, with our friends, playing the sport we love.

If your muni is particularly excellent, if it’s in really great shape and is a top-quality course, be aware of what you have. Play it. Often. Stay out of the Complaint Department. And realize that golf is no longer an elitist sport. It’s for everyone.

The uninformed think that the only people who play golf are those with expensive cars and houses and clubs. If they walked onto the first tee of a muni, they’d be surprised by how many regular people are out there.

We have to maintain that. We have to continue to make golf accessible to everyone, young and old – especially the young. That’s where the future of the game lies.

And a good place to start with a youngster would be to get them out to a muni as they learn to play the game. Teach them early that munis are great places. Get them focused on the beauty of the game.

Because that’s the other reason the muni – and especially the really short muni – is there. It’s the best place for kids to take their first steps on a golf course.

They’ll be watching what you do and listening to what you say. So say nice things about the muni. We want it to be around when they’re older, too.

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