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Michigan town proposes selling 98-year-old golf course

Michigan town proposes selling 98-year-old golf course

LANSING, Mich. — When Lansing City Councilmember Peter Spadafore proposed selling Groesbeck Golf Course last month, his suggestion shook local residents and golfers like a warning shout of “fore.”

Spadafore and his fellow council members ultimately decided it was too soon for such a decision on the city’s original, and last remaining, public golf course, just two years shy of its 100th birthday in 2026.

The mere mention of a sale, however, rattled those who have grown up golfing on what once were four municipal golf courses in Lansing.

“Everybody is amazed this place exists, tucked here in the middle of the city,” said Debbi Kile, who recently golfed at Groesbeck, 1513 E. Caesar E. Chavez Ave. “It’s just beautiful. This is a gem, and I don’t know how they couldn’t make money with this.”

Paul Albanese, a golf course designer who spoke to the State Journal in 2016 when his firm was designing a refresh of several holes at Groesbeck, praised it as a fantastic course, rooted in the Scottish traditions of working with the natural territory.

The public course, cheaper than most other options in the region at $29 for 18 holes during the week, is affordable for groups like Paul Hartley’s, who was with about 10 men playing at Groesbeck in late May.

“It’s the young people and the retirees that play here,” Hartley said. “The people who are working age, they can afford the Eagle Eye and the other expensive courses. But the young and old, that’s who this kind of course is for.”

Municipal courses on the rise

Lansing, facing a budget crunch following the Great Recession in 2008, jettisoned most of its golf courses. Then-mayor Virg Bernero said at the time that the sales were necessary to save the city’s flagging finances.

The nine-hole Sycamore golf course had closed in 2001, and in 2003 it was converted to a driving range, spurred in part by a $3.5 million loss in the previous decade across all four golf courses. A beginners program, First Tee, was launched at the property and later closed.

The Waverly and Red Cedar golf courses closed in 2007. Voters authorized the sale of the courses in a 2012 vote, although Waverly and Red Cedar weren’t officially sold to developers until 2018.

National trends could be in Groesbeck’s favor, according to the National Golf Foundation.

“There’s been a net gain of more than 140 (municipal) courses since 2004, amidst a backdrop of a market correction that’s contributed to a 13% decline in…


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