BWI golf center rejects rumor of demise, vows to bury competition


Officials of the company that owns the BWI Golf Center driving range on Aviation Boulevard say reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

The reports arose during a community meeting last month announcing the choice of a private company to build and run a driving range and miniature golf course at the county-run Friendship Park in Glen Burnie. Perplexed residents wondered what that meant for the BWI center just a few blocks away.

Jack Keene, head of planning and construction for the county Recreation and Parks Department, told them the BWI Golf Center was on the verge of closing.

That was news to the center's owners, who are upset that the county, with taxpayers' money, is helping a competing business get started.

"I thought privatization was for the county's own offices, not to use their own facility to compete with private businesses right across the street," said Steve Donnelly, general manager of the Circle Co., which owns the BWI center.

Mr. Donnelly said his company has no intention of giving up the center.

He said the state bought 15 acres near the driving range years ago for $1 million to create a "clear zone" for landing aircraft. But he said no other plans have been developed.

He said the golf center has been a fixture in the community for 30 years and disputed the need for another facility in the area.

Mr. Keene acknowledges he may have been premature in burying the center.

When he announced the county's plans to a committee of residents who live around the airport, Mr. Keene said, he thought the state planned to buy the golf center land.

But he said the center's refusal to go quietly into the night does not change county plans calling for a company called Privatization Plus to come in and set up a concession business.

He said the plans, which include picnic pavilions and batting cages, are more extensive than what is across the street.

"It is a more complete facility," he said.

Mr. Keene also said that another company plans to build a driving range on Mountain Road.

But Mr. Keene would not discuss the county's policy of privatization.

Mr. Donnelly said he has asked for help from County Councilman George Bachman.

But if the county goes ahead with its plans, Mr. Donnelly said, he will just run the competing company out of business by undercutting sales.

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