Walnut Hill Golf Course, CLOSED 2013
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Walnut Hill Golf Course, CLOSED 2013

6001 E Livingston Ave, Columbus,Ohio,43232
Type: Public
No. Holes: 9
Detailed description

Walnut Hill Golf Course, is a Public, 9 hole golf course located in Columbus, Ohio, just minutes from I-70 and I-270.

Walnut Hill Golf Course opened for play in 1974. The course was designed by Jim Harrison.

Featuring 3,372 yards of golf and a par of 36, Walnut Hill Golf Course has complete practice facilities, a pro shop, and four tee sets for golfers of all skill levels.

Averaging 24,000 rounds per year over the last 10 years, Walnut Hill has become a popular course for leagues, nearby colleges and high schools, and other golfers looking for a great course to play. The course has rolling hills and mature trees which add to the ambiance.

Blue tees: par-36, 3,277 yards, 35.6 / 119

White tees: par-36, 3,109 yards, 34.3 / 116(M), 37.1 / 126(W)

Red tees: par-36, 2,684 yards, 34.7 / 116

Yellow tees: par-36, 1,446 yards

The course closed in 2013, read on....

The Columbus Dispatch, Sunday March 17, 2013 10:55 AM

By Mark Ferenchik

Some people numbed by a long Ohio winter turn their thoughts this time of year to long drives and short putts.

But for the first time in more than 50 years, the city's Walnut Hill Golf Course will not play host to golfers.

The stone clubhouse on the Far East Side is boarded up, its tree-filled course quiet.

The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department closed it as the city's seven municipal golf courses bleed money.

Only Raymond Memorial on the West Side finished in the black last year as the courses overall lost $63,336. In 2011, the city courses lost $101,817. "To maintain a strong operation, there needed to be tough choices. This was one," said Dan Williamson, Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s spokesman.

Late last year, Coleman told Recreation and Parks Director Alan McKnight to come up with a long-term, sustainable plan for the golf courses. It was decided that Walnut Hill had to go. The course is to be converted into a city park. The other courses will remain open.

The golf courses are supposed to break even; the city is not supposed to use general-fund money to support them. But the courses have struggled in recent years, along with the economy, as they compete with dozens of other public and private courses in central Ohio.

The golf division's rainy-day fund covered deficits in 2009 and 2010, said Terri Leist, an assistant recreation and parks director responsible for the golf courses. The department covered the deficits in 2011 and 2012, but the golf division has to pay that back, Leist said. She said she also is putting together a profitability plan to build the rainy-day fund to $1.2 million in eight years through savings, in part from closing Walnut Hill, which lost $112,703 last year. She also hopes to sell advertising at courses and driving ranges.

Another reason for closing Walnut Hill is the cost to renovate the clubhouse. A 2007 estimate pegged it at $1.2 million.

The capital budget for all the municipal courses is $620,000, Leist said. People who live near Walnut Hill are completing a community survey to help the recreation department determine what should go there. Walking trails? Exercise stations? Frisbee golf? Hedges to separate the park from the homes that line it?

"The city seems to be willing to listen to the community," said Clay White, who has lived on Walnut Hill Park Drive for 22 years. His backyard abuts the course. White said he worries about crime. He said vandals already damage homes while walking through the golf course between apartment complexes that dot the area.

"The thing about a golf course is, you have constant activity back there," he said. According to the city's website, the course averaged 24,000 rounds a year during the past decade.

Walnut Hill opened in 1955 as an 18-hole course but later was changed to nine holes; the developer converted half the course to housing. Golfview Apartments, a partnership of developers Robert Weiler and Don-ald Kelly, donated the course to the city in 1974.

Deed restrictions prevent the city from selling it to any for-profit company. In 2008, a panel of city officials, business people and golfers recommended that Walnut Hill should be leased or sold along with Champions Golf Course off Westerville Road near Easton Town Center. Both were losing money.

There were no viable bidders, Leist said. Recently, the city agreed to pay Robert Weiler Co. $50,230 to release it from the deed restrictions. The company believed there needed to be some reimbursement because the land was donated to the city to be used as a golf course, Leist said. The city promised the company and the surrounding neighborhood that the land would become a park. The city bought Champions, a former country club designed by famed golf architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., for $2 million in 1988.

Fran Kocsis, the club pro at Champions, said rates have been kept low to attract golfers. The weekday rates in 1991 were $24. Today, they're $25. Weekend rates were as high as $45 a decade ago. Now, they're $31.

"There are not enough golfers to go around," Kocsis said. "We're all fighting for the same dollars."

Airport Golf Course closed temporarily in September 2011 when Port Columbus began to relocate its south runway. A redesigned course is scheduled to reopen on May 6, Leist said.

Last year, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority gave the city $560,550 as compensation for the days the course was closed.