Tribune-Courier News Editor
AURORA – Marshall County residents and guests will have one less choice for golf with the closure of the Bill Hamrick Memorial Golf Course at Kenlake State Resort Park.
Gil Lawson, spokesman for Kentucky State Parks, said the decision not to reopen the course in 2013 was prompted by economics.
“The decision was made when we saw the low number of rounds played at the park,” Lawson said. “The Department of Parks is looking at different things we can do to make budget.”
Lawson said the state spent between $45,000 and $50,000 to keep the course open. In 2012, the course had the lowest number of rounds played at a nine-hole course with 2,134. John J. Audubon saw the most rounds with 10,896.
Randy Newcomb, director of Marshall County Tourism, said with its closure, Bill Hamrick will be the third defunct golf course in Marshall County. Birmingham Point and Marvel golf courses remain closed.
“I certainly do not think it would hurt to sell alcohol,” Newcomb said. “Many successful courses do offer drinks. I’ve had three different investors come to my office to ask about Marvel or Birmingham. One of the first questions they ask are, ‘What are the chances we will be able to serve alcohol?’”
Newcomb said both courses were privately operated and had great locations.
Lake Barkley State Resort Park added beer sales to its clubhouse and fairways in August, 2011. In 2010, the park saw 10,842 rounds played on its golf course, Lawson said. In 2011, the number increased to 11,039. In 2012, 12,851 rounds of golf were played.
“I can’t say the increase is due to beer sales,” Lawson said. “It could be, or it could have been the weather. I know it is a nice amenity that people seem to like. We didn’t add beer sales to drive up the rounds of golf played. We thought we could make some money selling beer.”
Newcomb said the lack of open golfing venues in Marshall County has made marketing golf difficult.
“We have three 18-hole courses and a nine-hole course,” Newcomb said. “That’s a large number for us locally, but for visitors, that’s not a lot. I can’t promote golf with other courses closing.”
Newcomb said other courses consist of country clubs at Calvert City and Benton and a course at Kentucky Dam Village.
Lawson said Kentucky Dam Village will keep its golf course open. Other public courses nearby include Lake Barkley State Resort Park and Mineral Mound Golf Course near Eddyville. Eddyville is in Lyon County, which voted to allow the sales of alcoholic beverages in January.
“We’re considering offering the sale of alcohol in Mineral Mound, but we have to wait and see,” Lawson said. “There is some time we would have to wait after the referendum, but it is under consideration.”