Guard mulls closing Kodiak golf course

KODIAK — Losses over the last three years may lead the U.S. Coast Guard to close a golf course in Kodiak.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s base commander expects to make a final decision on the fate of the nine-hole Bear Valley Golf Course after this season, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

The course opened in 1986 and is operated by the guard’s Morale, Well-Being and Recreation (MWR) program. The course is supposed to be self-sustaining and have Coast Guard members and dependents as majority users, Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Veronica Colbath said.

But besides losing money since 2010, customer logs show that 60 percent of users aren’t connected to the Coast Guard.

“Base Kodiak understands and recognizes that the local community values the MWR golf course, but in the end of the day they really have to be good stewards of the MWR program,” she said.

It’s also possible outside organizations or individuals could present proposals to financially maintain the course, but she said they would have to be long-term solutions and not a temporary fix.

“One of the biggest things they realize is that the local community values the MWR golf course,” Colbath said. “Really the Coast Guard wants to maintain their relationship with the community. They want to look at what the options are and at least listen to what those options are before they determine what they are going to do at the end of the season.”

Kodiak Golf Association president Al Shaw said he has golfed the course since it opened, and it would be a devastating blow to the community. Besides golf in the summer, the course has life in the winter as a place to cross country ski.

“It is a wonderful place for the public to use,” Shaw said. “It would be a blow, a great impact on the community whether you are a golfer or not. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into building that place.”

Resident Peter Allen has also golfed there since the course opened. He notes many organizations like Special Olympics also use the facility.

“All sorts of good things happen here,” he said. “To let this go to bear pasture is just absurd — it is ridiculous.”

Shaw said the Alaska Golf Association has encouraged the Kodiak group to run the course for the Coast Guard next year, but he’s not sure his 60-member association can take over the nearly 20-acre course.

It’s not the first military-affiliated base to face problems in Alaska. Officials with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage this year closed Eagleglen Golf Course because of losses of more than $2 million since 2009 and a 37 percent decrease in players since 2004.

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