Baldwin Golf Association looking at possibility of new clubhouse
Steve Wilson had a fondness for Baldwin Golf Course long before becoming Baldwin Golf Association president.
“This is where I first started playing golf,” he said. “It’s a great place for parents to brings kids to get them started in the game.”
Wilson knows the nine-hole golf course has limitations. It has sand greens, and its fairways and tee boxes are not irrigated.
What some might perceive as a shortcoming make the course a community asset in other ways, Wilson said. As proof, he points to a photograph taken during a high school cross country meet snapped from the top of the Baldwin grain elevator he manages. It shows parking for the buses and other vehicles spilling over from the parking lot onto the course.
“You couldn’t do that on a grass green course,” he said. “Someday, someone with deep pockets might want to come in here and add grass greens and irrigation, but that’s not what we’re about.”
The course also is home to a handful of charitable 5-kilometer runs during the year, and a Baker University home cross country meet, Wilson said. Moreover, Baker has some golf classes at the course, Baldwin High School uses it for its golf team’s practices and Baker students are allowed free use of the course because of the university’s $2,500-a-year contribution to the association.
“There’s more that goes on out here than a bunch of guys coming out here on Wednesday evening and playing golf,” he said.
The Baldwin Golf Association has managed the golf course since it was established in 1951. For years, it did so with a year-to-year lease with the city. But two years ago, Wilson and the association asked that the lease term be extended to five years so there would be more confidence in its future.
The longer lease, now starting its third year, has worked as planned, Wilson said. The activity schedule is fuller, about 10 more $125-a-year memberships have been sold and the association’s finances are on more solid ground.
With that, the association is starting to look at replacing the converted horse barn that has served at the course’s clubhouse since 1960s.
Its appearance, especially when open to the pubic during big cross country meets, does not leave a favorable impression of the city, Wilson said. The kitchen area and bathrooms stink with mildew from the building’s failing roof, he said.
Wilson said he hoped a plan can be in place so that work could start in the late fall or early next spring to tear down the old barn and start on the new clubhouse.
He envisions a clubhouse with sink and bathrooms with a footprint slightly larger than the horse barn, Wilson said. Although nothing fancy, it could be rented for gatherings, especially those golf related.
“It’s in the early stages,” he said. “We want to see if we can come up with a plan. We want to see what it costs. Then, we’ll see how much money can be donates, how much materials and labor can be donated.”