The day is not far off when users of Baltimore County's three municipal golf courses will start to see their fees at work with marked improvements to their playgrounds.
The administrative decision has been made to allow golf revenues to be funneled back into course enhancement, and, although certain political procedures need to be completed, Wayne R. Harman, director of Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks, sees the changes being implemented within the next several months.
"Following these guidelines will give us a revenue stream for future golf development," Harman said.
Among the possibilities are a series of driving ranges at selected county sites, more free practice facilities similar to those at Oregon Ridge and Rockdale Park near Randallstown, at least a nine-hole course, and perhaps more holes later, adjacent to the Eastern Landfill, and maybe nine lighted holes at environmentally clear Honeygo Park, which the county owns.
"We have been criticized for some of our practices in the past, but now, we want to start to look more businesslike," Harman continued. He hopes the changes are warmly received, but knows they will be tempered by a prospective increase in rates. "It's still the best buy in town," he said.
"We want to complete the paving of cart paths so the carts could be used in wet weather, and, assured of incoming funds for financing, we want to proceed to seek funding for what I'm calling Diamond Ridge II [a second course in conjunction with the current Woodlawn facility].
"Of a more immediate nature, the projected purchase of new equipment and resulting improvements to the courses should be noticeable be fore long. We want to continue the wildlife habitats and show that courses aren't just compatible with the environment, they are enhancers of it. Our naturalist, for instance, gets a call in these areas.
"We are involved with programs for the disadvantaged, and we want to add summer golf camps for juniors. Our youth program is incredibly important. For instance, we exposed 3,000 fifth-graders to the sport, with the help of the PGA [including the Middle Atlantic Section], which donated $20,000 in equipment."
As for those wondering about other possible county sites for course development, Harman explains: "All these valleys around here are the result of glacial activity. Everybody says, 'Look at all the good dirt.' But that good dirt only goes down about six inches, and then you hit good Cockeysville marble.
"Take a drive after a rainstorm and see all the ponds in the fields. It's mostly a lack of good drainage."
Harman sees golf becoming part of a nice package to attract visitors. "Right now, it's tough to come into Towson from out of town and find a place to play golf. We have such amenities in the area as historical attractions and shopping, and if we include golf to help bring business people to the area, then perhaps, in turn, the local businesses would help with resources in ways they would be comfortable.
"Our data indicates there are 70,000 golfers in Baltimore County. We want to provide for them, and we want to work with the business community to perhaps stimulate this activity."
Essex CC to NJCAA
Members of the regional champion Essex Community College golf team are working on their games while awaiting a second straight trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championships June 1-4 at St. Simon's Island, Ga.
The Knights recently repeated as NJCAA Region XX champions following a 16-0 dual-meet season. For the two seasons, coach Bill Silverthorne's all-sophomore lineup has gone 34-2, and four of the five went to the nationals last year.
The exception is Dean Stout, a Calvert Hall graduate of a decade ago who returned to the classroom to work on a degree. The addition of Stout and the improvement of several players has dropped Jim Bennett (Overlea), last year's No. 1, several notches in the lineup.
Bobby Mokros (Archbishop Curley), Ed Miller (Kenwood) and Tim Rahnis (Chesapeake) complete the lineup.
U.S. Open qualifying
There will be 101 players seeking nine available places when 36-hole local qualifying for the U.S. Open is held tomorrow at Eagle's Nest. The nine will advance to a sectional June 7 at