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The Villages
Thursday, April 18, 2024

Golf officials admit ailing courses should have been closed sooner

Golf officials have admitted that ailing courses should have been closed sooner than they were here in The Villages.

The official who oversees maintenance at the executive courses made several admissions before the Project Wide Advisory Committee and a standing-room-only crowd which gathered Monday morning at SeaBreeze Recreation Center.

Mitch Leininger

Director of Executive Golf Maintenance Mitch Leininger weathered plenty of criticism for the deterioration of the courses, with words like “atrocious” being used by residents and PWAC members.

Mother Nature also took her share of the blame, due to the overcast and wet conditions that have resulted from the El Nino pattern.

“It’s been a difficult winter. It’s been cloudy and it’s been wet,” Leininger said.

He said it was around Jan. 1 that golf officials began to notice how badly some of the courses had deteriorated. And it went downhill quickly, he said.

“We didn’t rest courses as soon as we should have. We had tee time pressures. I will admit we probably did not rest them soon enough,” Leininger said.

His boss, Assistant District Manager Bruce Brown, joined in the mea culpa.

“These golf courses deteriorated too much. We failed,” Brown said.

A golfer at the Tarpon Boil Executive Golf Course
A golfer at the Tarpon Boil Executive Golf Course.

PWAC member Steve Bova, a supervisor in Community Development District 10, said on Sunday he played the much-maligned Tarpon Boil Executive Course.

“It was god awful,” Bova said.

He noted he’s been in The Villages for a decade.

“These are some of the worst conditions I have seen in 10 years,” Bova added.

He also said the bathrooms are dirty, there are stains on the floor and landscaping is worn out around the starter shacks.

But Bova also pointed the finger of blame at residents who aren’t doing their part in upholding good golf course etiquette, like repairing divots and raking bunkers.

“There are entirely too many carts driving around on the courses,” Bova said.

He said the golf carts, many of which diverge far from the cart path, have taken a toll on the turf.

Bova also faulted the Developer and said he “dropped the ball” by failing to build a sufficient number of golf courses south of State Road 44.

“The Richmond Pitch & Putt was supposed to be a nine-hole golf course,” Bova said.

Richmond Pitch & Putt
The Richmond Pitch & Putt was originally supposed to be a nine-hole golf course.

PWAC member Tina Williamson, a resident of the Village of Citrus Grove who serves on the Community Development District 13 Board of Supervisors, echoed that sentiment. She urged her fellow PWAC members to take “a hard look” at the numbers, including the thousands of residents who have moved in south of State Road 44 versus the number of golf courses added down there.

PWAC members acknowledged they will likely have to devote more of the residents’ money to upkeep of the golf courses.

PWAC member Duane Johnson, who represents Community Development District 8, said that residents need to realize the upkeep of the courses comes at a price.

“We have to get beyond this idea of ‘free’ golf. It’s not free. It’s a marketing ploy,” Johnson said.

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