BREC Commission unanimously votes to change Howell Park Golf Course

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One of the BREC golf courses will be transformed into a community park.

The BREC Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to change and repurpose the current Howell Park Golf Course on Winbourne Avenue. The golf course will be replaced with new fields, a lake and a boathouse

They interviewed hundreds of neighbors, and found the majority of people prefer something other than a golf course.

"This is not a decision that BREC takes lightly, and that is why we have moved in a deliberate manner to ensure that we have given residents the chance to weigh in on this decision," said BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight. "Instead of a golf course which serves an average of 30 people per day, I prefer serving 3,000 with events, picnics, ball fields, fishing lakes, playgrounds and other amenities."

The changes first began being discussed after recommendations from the National Golf Foundation (NGF) in December 2014.

"The National Golf Foundation is an organization dedicated to supporting and growing the game of golf. When they say that a golf course has such low use that the surrounding community would get more use out of the facility as a park, it is a recommendation that BREC has to take seriously," said Michael Raby, BREC Director of Golf.

The NGF made its recommended for the golf course because it was under used and lacked sustainable funding.

"At approximately 10,000 rounds per year, Howell gets about one third of what experts consider the minimal amount of rounds needed for a successful golf course. In fact, the NGF says it has the lowest rounds of any 18-hole golf course in the nation," said Raby. "Despite low green fees and efforts to advertise the course and improve course conditions, golfers are choosing to play at our other golf courses instead."

McKnight said that there will still be an area for golfers to be able to practice putting and chipping  along with the First Tee Program which gives out golf instruction.

BREC said that the Howell Golf Course will remain open until construction begins on the amenities for the community park. BREC has $2 million for the community park amenities.

Copyright 2015 WAFB. All rights reserved.