Unswung: McIntire boots Sunday golfers

For the second year, Charlottesville has claimed the McIntire Park Golf Course for the general public on Sunday afternoons, a move that signals changes ahead for the funkiest– and cheapest– course in town.

The Meadowcreek Parkway looms as one threat to the nine-hole course, which is tucked away behind the wading pool on the eastern end of the park and a little tricky to find if you go driving up to the main entrance to McIntire Park.

Part of the Sundays in the Park strategy is to give the McIntire Park Steering Committee feedback for its redesign efforts.

From noon to dusk starting August 31, the public may picnic and stroll through the course and its sand– yes, sand– putting greens without fear of being beaned by a golf ball.

At one time, disgruntled duffers were outraged at any threat to their beloved course, and wrote letters to the daily paper pleading for its survival.

The reaction to the loss of Sunday afternoon playing time has been more muted. "I don't think we got a lot of complaints last year from golfers who can't play on Sundays," says city spokesman Maurice Jones.

On an August Thursday afternoon, Bob Moody is the only golfer on the McIntire Park Golf Course. He isn't bothered that he won't be able to practice on Sundays, noting that Sunday afternoon is not prime golfing time.

"Saturday would be more of a problem," says Moody, suggesting that weekdays are prime time for the most avid golfers.

Despite its being deserted this particular afternoon, Moody says the McIntire course is "well played" by a lot of UVA students and senior citizens. "I enjoy this out here," he says. "There's not much of a crowd. If this hole is occupied, you go here instead."

More than the Sunday closing of the course, he says, "Everybody's concerned with the Meadowcreek Parkway, and then there won't be a golf course." However, city officials say they don't know for sure yet whether the parkway means the end of the golf course.

Playing at McIntire costs only $2 for residents, and it's paid by the honor system. Not surprisingly, it's not a big revenue generator for the city, says Jones.

Does that mean that strollers could win out over golfers, whose sport won out over hiking trails at Pen Park back in the early '90s?

The committee hasn't made any decision– yet– about the fate of the golf course. Says Jones, "They're waiting to get as much feedback as possible from the public."


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