LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Taylor Ruxer, from St. Matthews, loves golf, and he loves it thanks in part to two of Louisville's public golf courses: Crescent Hill and the one he played Wednesday night, Cherokee.
"I'm not able to get a membership at any clubs right now, so being able to come to these public courses is a huge benefit for me in being able to practice and further my golf game," he said.
However, there's a chance both of those courses could be changing hands or going away entirely. The city is facing a budget crunch fueled by the state's pension crisis, and Mayor Greg Fischer has put six of the city's ten courses on the chopping block. Those courses are Charlie Vettiner, Cherokee, Crescent Hill, Bobby Nichols, Iroquois and Sun Valley.
"If they go away, I don't have many other options as far as where I can play," Ruxer said.
As Ruxer played nine holes Wednesday evening, Director of Parks & Recreation Dana Kasler and CFO Daniel Frockt told Metro Council all of the city's courses are losing money.
"The traditional model of golf is not something's that on an uptick in Louisville and everywhere," Kasler said.
"Long term, that's not going to be a sustainable model," Frockt added. "I think we're going to keep seeing a greater and greater amount of general fund being drawn into golf."
They said that even though courses will stay open during the more profitable summer season, the city will soon request ideas from private hands who might like to buy and operate the courses. That process will take about five or six months. If that endeavor is unsuccessful, there's a chance four of the six courses placed on the chopping block will be closed.
What are those odds?
"I don't know what the odds are," Councilwoman Cindi Fowler responded with a somber tone. "I want to be optimistic that we're not going to close the courses."
Fowler hopes raising greens fees can help save the courses that she thinks are still popular, despite the bad numbers.
"I'm encouraging everyone out there: Play your public courses," she said. "If they're important to you, play them."
Ruxer will continue to do just that.
As for the course he played Wednesday, Cherokee, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy said it's willing to absorb the course into Cherokee Park as additional natural space if the golf course closes.
For now, though, everything is still up in the air. Metro Council could decide to close or sell courses during next budget cycle or possibly mid-year. Because of an amended ordinance from 2018, any decision to permanently close or sell a municipal course will require Metro Council's approval.
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