Published: Saturday, April 7, 2007
Trustees skeptical of buying golf course
The university already owns two golf courses, and trustees question the value of buying another.
COLUMBUS (AP) An Ohio State University proposal to buy a new golf course as an academic laboratory is getting a cool reception from university trustees.
Ohio State's Agricultural Technical Institute wants to buy the 193-acre Hawks Nest Golf Club near Wooster and use it to train future landscapers and golf course superintendents.
"We see this as a way to enhance our academic mission there through the opportunity to have our students engaged in the hands-on kind of work they'll be doing once they graduate," Bob Moser, dean of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, told trustees Friday.
The club's retired owners would sell it to the university for about $550,000, or a fraction of its $4.1 million market value, according to the institute. Ohio State would pay $50,000 a year for 10 years plus a transition payment of $50,000.
The club's first mission would be as a student training ground and secondarily as a golf course run by the university, said ATI director Steve Nameth.
He likened it to the institute's 1,700-acre beef and dairy farm which makes some money but is not self-supporting.
The farm's "primary function is to meet the academic needs of our students," he said. "This has the same potential."
OSU already has two
Ohio State already owns two golf courses, the Scarlet and Gray courses in suburban Columbus, and trustees questioned adding a third.
"Is that the mission of this department, to run a golf course?" said trustee Brian Hicks of Columbus.
He said that the golf course industry is challenged because of excess capacity and that many courses in Ohio are losing money.
"This could be a gift that could be a losing proposition," he said.
Trustees also have questions about the golf course's financial status and how long the university would have to operate it, said Bob Duncan, trustee chairman.
The golf course fits the institute's goals, Nameth said.
"It's well within the mission of Ohio State ATI," he said. "It might be a stretch to be within the mission of Ohio State in Columbus."
Earl and Betty Hawkins built the course in 1993. It is considered one of the country's top 200 best public courses, according to the institute proposal.
Earl Hawkins, 92, said his wife liked the idea of a place where students could learn and people could keep playing golf.
"She has confidence that they will do a good job," he said in a phone interview Friday.
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