University of Maryland Golf Course Threatened by Redevelopment Plans
By Torleif Sorenson on 10/23/13

The 8th green at the University of Maryland Golf Course in College Park

The University of Maryland Golf Course is one of the most popular public-access courses in the Washington D.C. - Baltimore metropolitan area.

Each year, over 35,000 rounds are played on this valuable 150-acre George Cobb-designed layout, including the Maryland state high school championships. GolfWeek magazine has ranked it among the top 30 campus courses in the United States. A strong junior golf program and teaching academy are important parts of the facility.

It is also one of the few large public green spaces in the increasingly crowded Washington metropolitan area, as well as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. This is especially nice for students and local residents wanting to escape the miles of surrounding concrete and urban development.

But University of Maryland President Wallace Loh wants to bulldoze the course in order to let developer Greenberg Gibbons build an upscale shopping center, an access road to the Capital Beltway, and faculty housing in its place. Loh wants to attract more people and vehicular traffic to the campus.

Now, Loh and Gibbons' plans are being met with a firestorm of criticism.
  • The course is one of the few affordable golf options for many area residents.

    "I would be heartbroken," said Charlie Hodgson, 81, of Silver Spring. "I would probably stop playing golf. That's how important it is to me."

  • Terry Shum, planning director for the City of College Park, said, "From a planning perspective, it makes no sense. There is only so much market to go around."

  • Former Maryland governor Parris Glendenning has blasted Loh's idea, calling it a "a disaster of the first magnitude" and pointed out, "This is a fairly urbanized part of the county, with one of the relatively few large open spaces. Why would we pave over that very last part?"

  • Maryland gubernatorial candidate Douglas Gansler, the state's former attorney general, also ripped Loh's idea: "This hurts the school. Besides destroying the golf course and taking an asset away... I think it will destroy Route 1.

    "This is an environmental gem right inside the Beltway. We don't have many 150-acre tracks of open space that can actually be used by people. So I think the environment is one thing, but also smart growth.

    "We have Route 1; that's where development ought to be, along with transit-oriented development of the 15 Metro stops here in Prince George's County."

  • The course is also host to many golf events that have raised over $1 million toward University-related projects.

  • The student newspaper has spoken out against the plan, noting that the course is one of only 14 certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries in all of Maryland.
Your humble correspondent would like you to know that a coalition called Save The UMD Golf Course has formed, laying out the case for nixing the redevelopment. The group has posted a web site, a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed. The web site includes a "What can you do to help?" page, including contact information for university officials and area politicians.

If University President Wallace Loh feels the pressure not just from students and local residents, but also from many golfers from everywhere else, he and developer Brian Gibbons might have no choice but to scuttle plans to destroy this valuable public-access golf course and wildlife sanctuary.

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Image via University of Maryland

[ comments ]
jasonfish11 says:
How else are they going to pay the $50MM exit fee to the ACC?

"Dear Maryland,
Enjoy the Big 10.

Love FSU,
bducharm says:
I have played this golf course - very nice. Fred Funk used to be the coach of the men's golf team at Maryland.

Same thing is going on here in Austin TX with plans to destroy one of the oldest golf courses west of the Mississippi - Lions Municipal. Sad....
[ post comment ]
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