- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2007

U.S. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, District Democrat, introduced a bill yesterday designed to increase the amount of investment in the District’s three public golf courses.

The Golf Course Preservation and Modernization Act would allow the National Park Service to lease the Langston Park, Rock Creek Park and East Potomac Park courses to a private operator rather than use a traditional concession contract. The bill would allow one of the three courses to be renovated and operate at market rates, while the other two would remain affordable to average golfers.

The courses often have been criticized for being in poor condition; earlier this year golfers at East Potomac Park were forced to play into temporary greens after a groundskeeper accidentally applied an herbicide instead of fertilizer. The poor condition of the courses was highlighted this year when Tiger Woods announced he would be the host for a new PGA Tour event at posh Congressional Country Club in Bethesda.

Norton’s bill calls for a competitive process to determine who can operate and renovate the courses while preserving their historic features. The new operator would lease the land rather than work under a concession contract, which Norton said does not encourage long-term maintenance and investment in the courses.

East Potomac Golf Course, also known as Hains Point, was built in 1920 and is one of the most popular courses in the area. Rock Creek Golf Course, located in Northwest, opened in 1923. Langston Golf Course opened in 1939 as a segregated course for blacks and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The three courses together constitute an undervalued asset that has extraordinary potential as affordable recreational outlets, attracting significantly more golfers and perhaps even producing new revenue for the treasury if appropriately contracted,” Norton said. “None of the courses has the appropriate amenities for golf courses today.

“All three golf courses are treasures in their own right, but they must be matched with the private market that would be quick to recognize their value and act to make them worthy of the golfing public in the nation”s capital.”

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