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Hope on horizon for Colonial Acres

Local PGA chapter floats potential private involvement for municipal golf course

— A possible white knight has arrived with a possible, if not distant, solution to the ongoing debate over the future of the Colonial Acres Golf Course: the PGA.

At a budget workshop held by the Bethlehem Town Board tonight, members of the Northeastern New York section of the Professional Golfers' Association said the group might be able to help find a private operator for the par-3 course. Supervisor John Clarkson's tentative budget for next year calls for the town to stop funding the course, which has been in the red for two years counting and is projected to lose $40,000 in the 2013 season.

Clarkson has repeatedly said he'd like to see the course at the very least remain open space, or at best continue under private operation. Local members of the PGA approached town officials about the possibility.

The group's Erik Smith said the NENY-PGA would be interested in inspecting the course and then potentially seeking a manager through its membership. The theoretical entrepreneur could then run the course on a lease to manage basis.

Smith agreed with the town's assessment that the course is unlikely to be profitable as traditional golfing destination without considerable investments — it lacks a proper clubhouse, carts for general use or even sewer service. He reasoned there could be other uses for the space though, including as a kid-friendly training area. Sitting on 33 acres, it would be easier at Colonial Acres to give lessons to youngsters and keep track of them on the links, he said. Smith said few courses grant more than token access to very young golfers.

“We're looking at it as an opportunity to grow the game,” he said.

Smith argued since course has no revenue stream besides its flagging greens fees, a major change is the only way to make Colonieal Acres relevant again..

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