Hartford Courses Remain on Track!
There is a long legacy of golf in Connecticut’s capital city. Its two golf courses, always open to the public for play, have endured through hurricanes and floods, as well as significant changes in the City and national economy. Goodwin Park Golf Course first opened in 1906 in the 237-acre park designed by the famous firm of Frederick Law Olmstead. Keney Park Golf Course was designed by heralded golf course architect Devereux Emmet and opened in 1927. In their heyday, both courses supported more than 75,000 combined rounds of golf annually.
In the fall of 2013, after nearly twenty-five years of leasing the City of Hartford golf courses to private, for-profit management firms, the City of Hartford decided to move the operational ownership back to City Hall and under the supervision and direction of the Department of Public Works. An ad hoc committee was formed of city residents and officials to research various business models and potential partnerships with local non-profits, and in 2014, the City formed the Golf Oversight Commission to ensure sound operational and financial management of the Courses.
After extensive review, the City decided to partner with both the Connecticut Section PGA and KNOX Inc. The PGA and the City signed a consulting agreement, through which the PGA would help the City set up its new business model. The PGA hired a dedicated employee to serve the City, and used the expertise of additional PGA Professionals to serve as subject matter experts. KNOX Inc., which has a horticultural-based job-training program for City residents, was invited to provide its program graduates as members of the golf course maintenance crews. This way, the courses are a source of employment for city residents – jobs that include specialized skills and experience in golf course maintenance and management that will provide a lifetime of job opportunities for those employees.
Fast forwarding to the spring of 2018, the City of Hartford has signed a new agreement with the Connecticut PGA Section to continue the consulting project at both City golf courses. The 2018 golf season represents the full return of Golf in Hartford, as it is the first time in at least 6-7 years that both Goodwin Park Golf Course and Keney Park Golf Course, along with their clubhouse restaurants, will be fully open and operational together.
The City has employed top professionals to oversee the day-to-day maintenance, educational, and operational elements of the golf courses. Guilmette Golf, LLC, certified course superintendents, provide the maintenance oversight at both courses and PGA professional Peter Seaman is now responsible for Golf Operations at both Keney Park Golf Course and Goodwin Park Golf Course, and the Section will be running its Hartford Women’s Open and the Connecticut PGA Championship at the city courses for the third consecutive year. The City has formed a strong management team consisting of the PGA, Knox, the Golf Oversight Commission and Public Works.
The City has formed a strong management team consisting of the PGA, Knox, the Golf Oversight Commission and Public Works, with a focused goal of returning the courses to financial stability by 2020.