In the two months since BREC unveiled a proposal to eliminate the Dumas Memorial golf course as part of the Greenwood Park-Baton Rouge zoo master plan, officials say the public has voiced relatively little concern over the idea.
BREC presented the public with three design concept proposals for the master plan on May 2, all of which calls for the removal of the 18-hole Dumas golf course, leaving nine reconfigured holes at the J.S. Clark course at Greenwood Park.
“We have heard from some golfers who are disappointed, but after we discuss the low play and large subsidy, they largely seem to understand that it doesn’t make sense,” says BREC spokeswoman Cheryl Michelet.
The public will be able to weigh on whether BREC should remove Dumas entirely or keep nine holes of the course, bringing Greenwood down from a total of 27 to 18 holes of golf.
Of the parks department’s six golf courses, Dumas has presented the largest challenge for BREC, officials say, because of low performance and high cost of maintenance. The 18-hole course saw just 12,134 rounds played last year and needed taxpayer subsidies of nearly $500,000.
It could be too early, though, to fully gauge public sentiment. BREC may hear more from the community as deadlines for a final master plan draw closer, Michelet says. The proposed final plan will be unveiled August 17, which the public will once again have the opportunity to weigh in on before it’s sent to the BREC Commission for approval in September.
In the meantime, the department is creating informational material with questions and answers about Dumas to be handed out at BREC golf courses, with contact information where golfers can reach out with additional questions or concerns.
The last time BREC closed a golf course—Howell Park, which officially closed in 2016 after the August flood—the parks department did receive a fair amount of pushback from golfers and elected officials in the north Baton Rouge area where the park was located. The Howell course, though, was BREC’s lowest-performing golf course at the time.
As for general public feedback on the three design concepts for Greenwood and the zoo, BREC has received some 1,708 total responses—either online, in-person at the May meetings or via a door-to-door survey.