BY JOHN STAM
Los Alamos Golf Association Board
I would like to respond to Mr. Warren’s letter (https://losalamosreporter.com/2022/08/14/why-are-taxpayers-paying-for-golfers-pleasure/) and perhaps clear up some of the misinformation he has provided the community.
First let me speak about the mysterious and powerful group called the LAGA that Mr Warren refers to. As a lifetime member of the LAGA and currently a board member of this group, I feel qualified to do this. The LAGA is a volunteer group that has no official standing within the County Government. The LAGA has been in existence for all of the 75 years of the golf course. Currently we have 156 members. What we provide to these members. The ability to get and maintain a Ghin handicap. We sponsor 10 to 11 tournaments a year at the golf course. The City Championship, Atomic City Invitational, Labor Day and Memorial Day Tournaments are examples of this. Our tournaments are open to all golfers who have a Ghin handicap, regardless of whether or not they are members of the LAGA. We have supported the youth of Los Alamos for years, providing 2 small scholarships for LAHS graduates. We are currently on pace to provide 4 scholarships for 2023. Our hopes are to increase our emphasis in the future on providing more money for scholarships. The golf course also has roughly 20 more tournaments per year related to charitable fund raising. The LAGA provides free advertising to our membership and also the free use of our registration software for these groups. It is my conservative estimate that these tournaments raise a minimum of $150.000.00 for various youth and charitable activities in Los Alamos. These monies are spent within the Los Alamos community. Why does the LAGA support option A ?
First, the LAGA has had the same ability to provide input into the process as the rest of the community. This input was given at the public meetings that the County has provided to all members of the community. We have had no private access to the process.
The four options, A,B,C,D were developed by the consultants and County staff using input they gathered from the public meetings.
All four options have strengths and shortcomings. All four options will require some removal of trees. Options C and D will also require rerouting of the current trail, at least equal to the trail rerouting in Option A.
We favor option A for the following reasons. One, it is the least expensive of the four options by $500,000 to $800,000 (depending on how you account for a restroom). It is also the simplest and does the least amount of disruption to the front nine of the golf course. In other words we believe that option A would result
in the loss of use of the front nine for at most one year. Options B, C, and D would result in the loss of use of the front nine holes for probably two years. Not an attractive option for the golfing community.
Allow me to have a personal comment here. I believe there are better options available for golf course improvement. But these are the four options that the County has provided us with to work with at this point.
Why should the community support the golf course?
First, I would challenge the idea that the golf course does not qualify as “open space”. I believe the golf course is on pace for 30,000 rounds of golf this year. That translates to roughly 130,000 hours of people enjoying the outdoors, breathing fresh air, and socializing in the outdoors. For walking golfers it is a five and a half mile walk around the golf course. Even golfers who use a cart will get a mile of walking in. The golf course is also used by the high school and middle school cross country teams for their home meets. Providing an excellent and safe course for their meets. For about three and half months a year the golf course is closed to golfers. During this time hikers, cross country skiers and snow shoers have use of the golf course. I believe the golf course definitely is “open space”
I would like to address some of unsubstantiated hyperbole that Mr. Warren used, as I feel that such comments are not useful. There has not been “uncounted millions of dollars” spent on the golf course. I believe all of the money spent on the golf has been accounted for by the County. It is indeed correct for golfers to point to the other expenses the County has spent on other recreational activities in Los Alamos. The County spends a great deal of money on the Aquatic Center, Ice Skating Rink, Public Libraries, Skateboard Parks, and yes even the Trails system. I don’t use all of these facilities but I support the people who do use them and receive great joy and satisfaction from their use of them. This is called,” being in community with my fellow citizens” Mr. Warren.
Mr. Warren states that in his “opinion” the main users of the golf course are “old men”. As a 71+ old golfer who is at the golf course almost daily (as my wife claims) I am definitely in the minority. I take great pleasure in seeing the increasing numbers of young adults that have taken up golf during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a great way for people to go outdoors, socialize and social distance. This has been a nationwide phenomenon due to Covid. Many communities are learning the value of their golf courses and they are actually spending money on them. It is unfortunate that Mr. Warren couldn’t be at the golf course when the Golf Pro Michael Phillips was doing his junior golf clinics. At times I can verify there were at least 50 grade school aged children at the course for these clinics, pre-Covid of course. The numbers of ladies playing golf are also increasing. It is not yet at a 50/50 ratio for men and women. But there is no reason for that not to occur in the future.
I do not know how this process will finally end. Whether or not one of options A, B, C, or D will be chosen. Or perhaps in our wisdom together we could find a better solution to the improvements. I do know it is not necessary for this issue to divide our community into differing tribes and pit them against each other. Together we can find the right solution.
Thank you for your consideration.