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Teed-off city officials wary of plan for new golf clubhouse


The non-profit organization that runs the city-owned golf courses says it wants to build a new clubhouse at Clifton Park, one with air-conditioned locker rooms, a new pro shop and a much shorter walk to the golf-cart concession and first tee.

But the proposal bogeyed at the Board of Estimates yesterday.

Members of the board, who have been frustrated by the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp.'s refusal to share an $800,000 surplus with the city, said the package cannot be approved before the Public Works Department and parks department look it over.

And Mary Pat Clarke, the board's president, hinted strongly that she would not mind if city officials took their sweet time.

"I want them to study it very carefully, very carefully," said Mrs. Clarke, the City Council president. "I want them to be very thorough."

Mrs. Clarke and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke have said they would like to find some way of persuading the corporation to turn over part of the surplus for city recreation programs.

But William L. Cook, executive director of the golf corporation, said the money should be used for improvements to the golf courses.

Mr. Cook said the unusually large surplus this year is a fluke resulting from an unusually mild winter that kept the links free of snow. Giving a portion of the surplus to the city could leave the corporation without money to make improvements and repairs during lean times, Mr. Cook said.

"This has been a very unusual year," he said. "But the converse could be true also. We could lose $300,000. Basically, we're disappointed."

Since 1946, the Clifton Park clubhouse has been in the old Johns Hopkins House, a 19th-century mansion whose parlors, wine cellar and dining room were converted into locker rooms, a garage for golf carts and a pro shop and snack bar.

But golf corporation officials say a new clubhouse is needed because the mansion's historic status precludes them from making further renovations.

The corporation has operated the city's links since 1985, when then-mayor William Donald Schaefer leased the city's five municipal golf courses -- Carroll Park, Clifton Park, Forest Park, Mount Pleasant and Pine Ridge -- to the non-profit golf corporation under a 15-year, no-cost lease.

The arrangement -- under which the corporation promised to make the courses self-sustaining and not to rely on city money -- was meant to spare the Department of Recreation and Parks the expense of maintaining the golf courses.

The lease agreement does not require the corporation to give any of its revenues back to the city.

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