By Jalen Wade
BOWIE – In their June 17 city council meeting, Bowie City councilmembers heard the proposal for renovation of the city’s golf course.
The Bowie Golf & Country Club has been owned by the city since 1981 and has been undergoing various modifications since the 1970s. According to Nick Spurgeon, assistant director of the community services department, the golf course has needed repairs since 2018.
“Staff began recognizing deficiencies at the Bowie golf course in 2018, staff included the golf course in the capital improvement program,” said Spurgeon.
In 2018, the city council approved $250,000 for making improvements to failed irrigation pumps and pipes. In 2019, there was $95,000 allocated to make improvements to the clubhouse. Spurgeon said a capital improvement plan, a short-term program which identifies projects and provides planning and funding options, would work in giving the golf course extra help.
The city has no idea on how to proceed with it as they had no certification on golf courses.
“Since we have no certified golf experts on staff we put out a request for proposals, so we sought an expert organization to take a look at and analyze our golf course and tell us what we need to do,” said City Manager Alfred D. Lott.
Bowie was eventually able to narrow down their proposals and decided to work with McDonald and Sons of Jessup. McDonald and Sons presented some of their accomplishments, which includes 84 golf club clients in 2018 alone.
Joel Weiman and Logan Thompson of the McDonald and Sons presented a 133-page document with analysis of the club and ideas on how to improve it. Weiman was blunt in his explanation of the state of the golf course as he asserted that the course “was failing” as he presented images showing the dilapidated state of the course.
The fundamental problems include irrigation system upgrade, and cart paths repaved as well as a complete overhaul of the clubhouse. The clubhouse, according to Weiman, is not structurally sound and does not have plumbing that works.
“We did that in conjunction with a team of consultants and turfgrass experts, creation experts, clubhouse designers and builders to create a potential vision of the future,” said Weiman.
Weiman stated that now was a good time to begin renovations due to the loss of other nearby courses such as Glenn Dale Golf Club, which is closing later this year, and the Patuxent Greens Country Club which is undergoing development. Weiman believes that these closings will help Bowie’s course as it will lead to an increase in golfers and greater opportunities for shared future development.
“For decades, the golf course has been plagued by delayed infrastructure investments that can no longer be ignored if you want to continue operating a public golf course,” said Weiman.
Weiman animatedly spoke about advancing towards the future with the course and said changing the course is necessary due to how golf is changing.
“The game of golf is evolving, its changing and we want to tap into that evolving golf market and create a practice-centric facility,” said Weiman.
His vision for the golf course included a great emphasis on making it a place for the community. He emphasized that the course must be a place that is affordable for people in the community as well.
“We want to improve the infrastructure and make smart, savvy decisions and create a golf course that will be here for the next generation,” said Weiman. “Tiger Woods most likely will not be playing here that’s not what we’re trying to design. We’re trying to design for a public golf course to keep greens fees relatively low.”
Despite Weiman’s presentation, Council Member Michael P. Esteve was hesitant to be voting over another recreational facility at the request of a user group.
“I have to point out that we don’t just work for the user groups of our recreational amenities. We work for our residents, and we work for our taxpayers. Most of the users of our recreational amenities, the courts, and the ice rink don’t live in the city of Bowie,” said Esteve.