The East Baton Rouge Recreation and Parks Commission is officially shuttering Howell Park Golf Course, months after BREC started asking nearby residents if they would get more use out of something other than the under-performing golf course.
The BREC Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to repurpose the golf course on Winbourne Avenue, and BREC has plans to replace it with a lake and boathouse, multipurpose fields and other amenities. BREC leaders said they interviewed people from more than 300 homes near to the park, along with a dedicated group of golfers, before determining that the majority of respondents would prefer new park amenities instead of the golf course.
“Instead of a golf course which serves an average of 30 people per day, I prefer serving 3,000 with events, picnics, ball fields, fishing lakes, playgrounds and other amenities,” said BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight in a statement.
Howell Park will still have some golf — Howell will have a practice area for putting and chipping, and the park will also keep a First Tee Program that teaches children how to golf.
The discussion about closing Howell Golf Course started a year ago, when consultants from the National Golf Foundation said Howell was BREC’s lowest performing golf course. Howell attracted the fewest golfers and generated the least amount of revenue from BREC’s seven courses.
The National Golf Foundation also recommended closing the J.S. Clark Golf Course in Baker and adding new amenities there as well, but BREC has not acted on that suggestion.
BREC gathered public input on the golf course changes once in June and another time in September. They presented options to replace the golf course that ranged from performance stages to dog parks to community gardens.
BREC has about $2 million to spend on new amenities, which will come in phases. The initial funding will help build the lake, a boathouse, a field and other additions.
Depending on whether BREC can secure money from grants, planners also would like to add a new recreation center, a fishing pier and a community garden to Howell Park.