A View from the High Plains

A recent story in The Telegram advised that our City Commission had approved Phase one of a six part plan to “redo” Buffalo Dunes, our wonderful, widely admired golf course. Over a year ago, somebody ponied up a sizeable sum to hire an out-of state golf architect to come tell us what needed to be done to improve it. I suggested to Mr. Hase, our new golf Pro, that he had the experience to look The Dunes over and suggest changes that might make it better. But, a Kansas City/Minneapolis firm was apparently hired to do such, altho when and at what cost I know not.


Upon close perusal of the plot plan and details for each phase, one horrible fact stands out: 210 trees are being slain in the process, with only 19 new trees planted. Aside from the $63,000 cost of removal ($300 x 210), it seems now the mis-guided folks who have been gunching for some time to turn our “beautiful gal” into a “links” (treeless) course are having their way. Rape is the only word that comes to mind for this tragic course of action! As a city commissioner who helped bring The Dunes to life, I can assure the “links advocates” that that concept was never seriously considered. Those who seem so determined to have a “treeless course” should get membership elsewhere and leave those tree and our course alone.


I don’t know who is behind this push to have outsiders tell us what to do, much less spend 8 percent of about $800,000.00 as architect fee for making up the six phase plan. It might be those who are hell-bent on having a new, expensive clubhouse just so we can have a dining room to feed tournament players three times a year; or perhaps an additional bathroom for the gals! A small add-on to the present club house, along with any needed repairs, can certainly be done without “tearing a new one” in the taxpayers!


Looking at the phase plans, it looks like sand bunkers are being used to replace the “murdered” trees. Other things are being added, including many yards of cart paths and numerous tee boxes, some new and some rebuilt.


The plan calls for removal of 2,860 lineal feet of cart paths at $17,160.00, with 28,300 sq.feet of new cart path at $56,600. Perhaps the old concrete paths wore out, you suppose? 8 percent of $74,000. is how much to the architect? The plan also calls for three new greens, but I am unable to determine just where and how. All of the present 18 greens are well located and a challenge to play.


Today I watched a match on a “Links” course somewhere in Florida. It had few trees and was covered by many sand traps; totally ugly and uninviting. No shade whatsoever for players or spectators. Frankly, I doubt designers in Kansas City and Minneapolis have any real-life understanding of how important trees are to our great plains area. I certainly don’t want them, or the PGA, or any other golf organization or tournament folks telling us how we should “fix or improve” our golf course!


With a couple of serious health problems these past two years, I have been unable to play the Dunes. If this Awful virus beast abates and permits, I hope to find medical assistance so that I can walk again, as well as try and hit some golf balls. But either way, I don’t want this jewel to look like a diamond with all its facets scratched off!


One golf advisory board member says that group is not to consider costs. I don’t believe that was the original concept: it is seriously to consider every aspect about the course, not be just a rubber stamp.


The world has already changed dramatically because of COVID-19, and the economics of our whole system, including local, state and national governments, will be hard pressed financially for a long time. Costs of all non- priority items, including golf, pools, etc. will need to be very, very closely monitored until many things have settled down!


And I hope that our city commissioners will take immediate action to look at this business and scrap the whole deal, including any architectural expense for course improvements or new clubhouse!


Duane West is a former Garden City mayor and city commissioner