The golf course at Fort Meade will close May 1 after more than six decades of play, officials at the Army base said Thursday.
The 27-hole course, which saw 35,000 rounds of play last year, had been scheduled to close in September to accommodate building projects at the rapidly growing installation. But the date was moved up to accommodate construction deadlines, effectively canceling the final season of play.
Fort Meade garrison commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein called the closure "an emotional issue."
"I know the golf course will be missed," he said in a statement. "It has served me along with the entire Team Meade community, helping our service members, civilian workers, retirees and families balance work and life activities."
"However," he added, "the decision to support national security, DoD priorities and our partners is not difficult."
Officials have explored the possibility opening a new course elsewhere, but in the current budget climate, such a move seems unlikely.
"We aren't giving up," Rothstein said. "There are a lot of creative thinkers working toward the goal of moving this course to a location that has already been selected.
"That said, I want you to know that Meade is aggressively continuing efforts to find an alternative resolution to meet our community golfing requirements."
In the long term, he said, these could include building a new golf course elsewhere or purchasing a local course.
In the short term, negotiations are under way with area golf courses on reciprocal agreements for Fort Meade golf club members, according to Scott Myers, the chief of business operations for the Directorate of Family, Morale and Welfare at Fort Meade.
Efforts also were being made to place the course's 33 employees in other jobs on the base or to find them positions at other golf courses. They include groundskeepers, golf pros and catering managers.
Opened in 1950 with 18 holes, a driving range, putting green and club house, the course hosted President Dwight D. Eisenhower, among other notable players. Eighteen more holes were added in 1956.
The complex lost nine holes and its driving range in the 2005 base realignment to make room for the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Defense Media Activity headquarters.
Fees from the golf course help fund repairs and improvements to buildings at Fort Meade such as child care and child development centers and service member and youth sports facilities.