9-hole golf course seen at Bear Creek Park

       A nine-hole “short” golf course is being proposed for part of Bear Creek Regional Park just east of 21st Street.
       The two main proponents are Judy Bell, the first woman president of the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) who is credited with bringing the U.S. Women's Open to the Broadmoor in 1995; and Carl Donner, a retired banker who has worked with Bell for many years, including her term as USGA head in the late '90s.
       El Paso County Parks has scheduled a public meeting for the concept Tuesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. at the Bear Creek Nature Center, 245 Bear Creek Road.
       Bell and Donner gave a preliminary presentation to the County Parks Board at its meeting last week. The board took no action.
       “My thinking at this point is to hold one or two public meetings to see how much interest there is,” County Parks Director Tim Wolken said. He added his anticipation that “the neighbors will have lots of questions and concerns.”
       According to Bell, the goal is to “keep it as natural as we can. It would be like a Scottish course that would fit right into the land.”
       Donner said the inspiration came from a USGA program aimed at making golf more accessible to children. “It'll be a short course, kid-friendly, and probably cost a buck,” he said. Adults would pay a higher (as yet undetermined) amount.
       The course layout is not yet decided, but, based on the proposal, would take up a third to a half of the 90 acres of park land south and east of the Bear Creek Gardens off Rio Grande and 21st streets. The land is not developed now, other than a few trails.
       The site's advantages for a golf course are being attractive, on a bus route, and in an area “where there's a fairly good golf population,” Donner said. Having shorter holes means it will take less time to complete a round. “It'll be the kind of course you can play in 1 to 1 ½ hours,” he predicted. “You can come with your family.”
       Donner and Bell would like County Parks to provide essentially a free (dollar a year) lease on the land. Other fund-raising would be necessary to design and build the course. But they have no intent of forcing anything on the neighborhood. “If there's a strong neighborhood outcry, we'll have to seek another site,” Donner said. However, he added his belief that the course would not hurt the appearance of the park nor have a direct, adverse impact on neighbors.
       No trails would be cut off for the golf course, Bell noted, but in certain places they might have to be moved.

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