By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Quincy Park District is in the initial stages of gathering public input for possible changes at Westview Golf Course.
Westview pro Matt Burry recently sent out a five-question survey to season Westview pass-holders to gauge their interest in making some radical changes to holes 19 through 27. Burry would like to see that portion of the course turned into an executive par-3 course and practice facility.
"If we're going to do something like this, we need to do it right," he said.
Burry said his ideal renovation of the area would include a par-3 course, a driving range and other areas for golfers to practice before they play their rounds. One of the biggest complaints he gets from golfers is there are no practice areas other than a huge practice green to the west of the clubhouse.
"Anyone who plays serious golf, they are going to want to spend, whether it's 20 minutes or 45 minutes, doing some kind of warm-up to help them get ready for their game," Burry said. "Otherwise, it might take three holes into their round before they are comfortable for where their game is at that particular day."
Possible renovations at Westview and other topics related to the course took up a good portion of last week's 90-minute Quincy Park Board meeting. Executive Director Ed Seger said a preliminary estimate for the project that Burry is suggesting is $456,000 which would be funded through bond money.
Seger said some positives for the project would be providing a "faster golf experience" for players who play the par 3.
"For the time-limited golfer, they could complete nine-hole rounds faster on a par 3 and at potentially a lower price point," Seger said.
Seger estimated that a combination par 3/practice facility would turn a profit of $75,000 a year.
"I think it would make money if we're off on that number," he said.
Burry told board members that changing Westview's "back nine" into a challenging par-3 course and practice area would be a good way to generate revenue for the facility.
"The two most important things are generating additional revenue and generating additional golfers," Burry told the board, "and a practice facility is the place to do that. We have to find new golfers, and this is the way to do it."
Westview opened as an 18-hole course in 1949. It expanded to 27 holes in 1963. The final nine holes are played as a par-34. There are two par-3 holes on the back nine, and there are no par-5 holes.
"I am very much for this," Commissioner Greg Feldberg said. "In order to promote the game of golf, which I think is one of the big goals of Westview, this is something that is needed. The third nine as it sits is not a good nine holes from a golfers' standpoint."
Burry said reaction from pass-holders who have responded to the survey are mixed.
"When we sent this survey out, not a lot of information went out with it," he said. "They see the words â€˜par-3 course' and â€˜driving range.' and they say, â€˜Hey, we already have that down the road.' We do, but I don't envision it as a par-3 course. I think of a nice par-3 course where you'll have to use seven or eight different clubs to tee off, not just a pitching wedge on six or seven holes.
"I think it would increase the play back there, and I think golfers would enjoy it."
The Park Board plans to hold a special meeting at Westview sometime in May to allow people to weigh in on the discussion.
"I think the rest of the golfers' input is needed, and the taxpayers at-large, their input is needed even if they don't play golf because there is money at stake," Park Board President John Frankenhoff said.
"We can look at the numbers and say Westview revenue may increase and pay for this, but in the past Westvew has been subsidized, so it's a question that every taxpayer is going to want to understand."