After years of trouble Rockville decides to close its golf course
By Neal Earley @neal_earley
ROCKVILLE — RedGate Golf Course will close in January, and its fate will remain in limbo as the Mayor and Council consider a path forward for the struggling course.
City officials said the golf course is in poor condition, so much so that the Mayor and Council will discuss possibly turning the property into a park or could potentially sell part of the land for development.
RedGate, located on Avery Road in Rockville, is a public golf course owned by the City, but in 2012 the City transferred management of the course to Billy Casper Golf, a golf-course management company headquartered in Reston, Virginia.
“They have allowed it to deteriorate,” said Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton about BCG’s management of the course.
Newton said the course was in great shape before the City transferred the management of the course to BCG, starting in 2012.
A BCG spokesperson did not return requests for comment for this story, nor did RedGate’s general manager, who is on paternity leave. Two RedGate employees also declined to speak on the record for this story.
While the course may be a convenient place to tee off for many in the area, the course’s condition is poor, with dead grass, patches of dirt on the fairway, broken golf cart paths and sand traps full of mounds of white powder.
As of now, the City’s agreement with Billy Casper Golf is set to expire in January, and City management will suspend playing at the course while the Rockville Mayor and Council decide its future. In addition, the City commissioned a study into the future viability of the course by the National Golf Foundation, Newton said the findings of the report could weigh heavily into what the Mayor and Council decide to do with the course.
Tim Chesnutt, Rockville Director of Recreation and Parks, said he had several meetings over the years with representatives from BCG about the poor condition of the course, saying the management company agreed with City officials that the course did not meet the City’s standards
“My understanding is they didn’t have the financial wherewithal to perform the maintenance,” Chesnutt said
Chesnutt explained that golf is a declining sport nationally, and it’s hard for the City’s public golf course to compete with the nine public courses in Montgomery County and the numerous pristine private clubs where people play. While Chesnutt did not have the hard numbers, he said that RedGate needs golfers to play about 40,000 rounds of golf a year on its course to remain viable. Chesnutt said RedGate was well below that number.
“It’s quite a crowded market, so we really need to assess the viability of it operating in that manner,” he said.
Chesnutt said he expects the rough draft report from the National Golf Foundation Friday, and that the Mayor and Council will discuss its findings and the future of the course at a meeting sometime in January.
Until then, the City’s golf course’s future is uncertain.