O'BRIEN: Any changes at Westview could come down to dollars and sense

Posted: Mar. 22, 2013 10:12 pm Updated: Apr. 20, 2013 1:15 am

Fifty years ago, Westview Golf Course expanded to 27 holes. That expansion helped make the course one of the best in the area and spurred a golf boom here that's been felt worldwide.

For as much as Quincy is touted as a basketball town, the Gem City is known just as much for its golf.

For 40 years every June, junior golfers have come from all over the globe to participate in the Pepsi Titan Little People's Golf Championships. The boys teams at Quincy High School and Quincy Notre Dame each have won state championships. The Quincy High School girls golf team won three straight state crowns in the late 1970s.

Natives D.A. Weibring and Luke Guthrie have helped carry the town's name into the world of the PGA and Champions tours in the pro golf world.

Westview golf pro Matt Burry wants to make sure Quincy keeps it place on the golf map. Doing that, he says, would mean taking the "back nine" at Westview and transforming it into an executive par-3 course and practice facility.

Burry insists the area would be different from the Knights of Columbus facility north of Westview on 36th Street. The par-3 would feature several holes of at least 200 yards in length. The practice area would be more than a driving range. He envisions players practicing their putting and hitting out of sand traps while getting ready for their rounds.

"If it's done right, it would be a great area for golfers not only to work on their short game but their longer clubs, too," he said. "There is a lot of land back there, and I think we can do it nicely."

Westview's "back nine" is better than a lot of area course's nine hole offerings. But it pales in comparison with the first 18 holes at Westview. There are no par-5 holes and no hazards. The most appealing part of the "back nine" is the last hole, the par-3 27th hole may just be the toughest par-3 hole in town.

There are a lot of golfers who like playing those nine holes and are upset with any discussion to change them. They're letting Burry know that they want to keep the status quo.

"I've seen some of the comments and some people are against it, but that's normal," Burry said. "They don't have all the information yet and we don't either. I thought it would be a lot more in favor. The majority probably would be in favor, but there is a lot more negative than I thought, too, because there is a lot of misinformation out there."

This decision is more than golf. Should the Park District sink upwards of a half a million into the course? Westview's gross income has outpaced expenses in eight of the last 10 years. In 2012, the course turned a net income of $124,566. That didn't include $145,000 in capital purchases made by the Park District for the course. Add that in and the course operated at a $20,434 loss.

Executive Director Ed Seger said that $1.7 million of taxpayer funds have been used to pay for bonds and capital projects at the course since 1997. Without that help, Westview would be $1.5 million in the hole.

"I wish Westview did better," Park Board President John Frankehoff said. "In an ideal world, it would break even. But the way these numbers are now, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed that these are out there because that's the way it is. ... I'm comfortable with the decisions that we've done the last few years."

The Park District will hold a special board meeting at Westview in May. The public forum will give golfers and other a chance at letting the Park District know how they feel about any plans to change Westview.

What changes, if any, are made at the course are ultimately up to those who make their voices heard.




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