Golf Pro says no to unsupervised youth golf, shotgun start

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Whether the Holiday Island Board of Commissioners should intervene in district operational decisions was a question raised during a discussion at Monday's work session about the junior golf program.

Members of the Holiday Island Ladies Golf Association who have been serving as volunteer coaches for the girls' high school golf team submitted a proposal to the board after being denied two of their requests by Golf Pro Barry Storie.

Those requests were to allow established youth team players to practice their game on the course unsupervised during days other than scheduled practice and to allow two practice tournaments in August to have shotgun starts.

Everyone was clear that the issue was not about Holiday Island supporting golf education for young people -- which it has done consistently -- but about these two specific requests.

Volunteer coach Laura Morrison explained that established players are those who have worked closely with coaches for a year in supervised practice, have passed scrutiny on golf etiquette, course rules and course care and have played in district and regional tournaments.

Morrison said established players would have cell phones with them and be able to contact coaches should any problems arise.

Storie said he has never allowed youth teams to play unsupervised, as too many problems can arise that can open the district up to liability. Only one of the four established players is the child of a Holiday Island property owner.

"In 25 years I have never allowed kids to play unsupervised," he said. "HISID does allow kids to play unsupervised, but if we organize a group, it needs to be supervised."

The district allows children, ages 12 and up, of property owners with family activity cards to play unsupervised on the courses.

Storie said the policy is to protect the team as much as the course.

"When a problem occurs on the course, unsupervised youth are at a greater risk of being blamed regardless of whether they were involved/responsible," he wrote in a memo to the board.

Former golf course Richard Russell, who coached the Eureka Springs teams for eight years, said in an email he concurred with the decision not to allow unsupervised play.

The volunteer coaches also requested a shotgun start for practice tournaments in August on two Thursdays at 4 p.m.

They said every other course that holds youth practice tournaments allows shotgun starts.

Storie denied the request, calling it "an unreasonable burden" on Holiday Island property owners to have the course closed as much as three hours in advance of a shotgun start tournament when Holiday Island is already providing free use of the course to the students and has supported the program with free private lessons, free use of the course and assisted in getting golf bags to students who couldn't afford them.

Most members of the board responded to the coaches' requests with concern that they were being asked to intervene in an operational decision, which they were reluctant to do.

"You've asked us to overrule the people that run the operation, and I say no," Commissioner Boyce Williams said. "I back the people that run the operation, and it's up to you to get it straightened out."

Others, with the exception of Commissioner Kay Janky, who put the discussion on the agenda, felt similarly, but Commissioners Ken Mills and John Dolce asked that there be some accommodation to the coaches' requests.

Also at issue is the school district's lack of support for the golf team.

The discussion has not been scheduled for the board's business meeting. District Manager Kevin Crosson said later the district will sit down with the school district to come up with a usage policy that everyone can agree with.

In other discussions, the board:

* Heard a presentation from Arkansas Game & Fish Deer Program Coordinator Brad Miller on the recent deer count at Holiday Island. With a high density deer population, he said the district has several options: do nothing in light of the conflict and controversy a controlled hunt might bring; hire professional sharpshooters, which is expensive; institute fertility control, which is seldom effective; trap and transfer, which is expensive and risky in terms of disease control; trap and euthanize, which is expensive; or conduct a controlled bow hunt. Although he did not see indications of Chronic Wasting Disease, he said he saw one deer with tumors. He recommended the district get a disease assessment of the deer population. The item will be on the business meeting agenda Friday.

* Heard the 2009 district road paving program recommndations, with two options for paving various roads with asphalt, chip/seal with district funds and chip/seal with county funds. Asphalt candidates are Wild Turkey Drive, over a two-year period (Option 1) or Leatherwood Drive and Eagle Drive (Option 2) this year. Under Option 1, Eagle Drive would receive chip/seal paving. Crosson is recommending Option 1.

This item will be on the business meeting agenda.

Also on the agenda will be the marina lease renewal contract.

The business meeting will be held Friday, May 22, at 1 p.m. at the district office at 110 Woodsdale Drive.

To view the district's 2009 road program document in pdf, click here.

To view the district's memo on the Junior Golf program, click here.

To view the district's proposed marina lease contract, including payment, document, click here<.

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