LEAD LETTER OF THE WEEK

Letter | Whispering Pines an asset worth saving for Myrtle Beach

February 16, 2014 

Whispering Pines Golf Course

The view on Whispering Pines Golf Course from the 17th hole green, a par-3 with the new airport terminal building directly behind it. The city-owned course has lost more than $120,000 per year in each of the last three fiscal years.

BY CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

I find it incredible that the Myrtle Beach City Council wants to shutter Whispering Pine Golf Course on the pretense that it loses money. What do you expect?

The city is not a for-profit organization. It is established to serve the needs of the residents. I find it doubtful that you could justify the existence of any city facility if the sole basis was to make a profit. Does the city make a profit at Pepper Geddings or Crabtree recreational facilities? How about the bike trails that many residents enjoy, or the libraryor the tennis courts?

Profit is a straw man argument. The $250,000 number is 0.15 percent of the city’s total budget of $158 million, according to the 2013-14 budget available online at the city’s website. It is only 1.4 percent of the budget for the Cultural and Leisure Services department. We spend $310,000 on baseball stadium maintenance and $535,000 on “Sports Tourism,” which means folks who don’t live here.

I don’t have a problem spending money for bike trails although I don’t personally use them, or the library or the tennis courts or any of a number of nice things our city offers. Even the baseball stadium, built with public money, goes into making Myrtle Beach a nice place to live.

So too, Whispering Pines golf course. It is an asset the city could never afford on its own and one that can never be replaced if we get rid of it. Many growing cities have bike trails, stadiums and even municipal golf courses. Why not us?

The same budget document that divulges how much the city spends on other recreational items shows that Whispering Pines has experienced solid growth in rounds played and, more importantly, in rounds played by locals since 2010, during what we all know to be very tough economic times. Total rounds played increased by 8.5 percent over that time and rounds played by locals (over 22,000 rounds) increased by 44 percent over the same period.

It is my opinion the city should continue to own and operate Whispering Pines. I believe they should take the hundreds of thousands of dollars they are biting at the bit to spend on redevelopment plans for the golf course and use it to upgrade and improve the facilities and equipment there. I believe Whispering Pines is an asset to our city that should be preserved and made better, not a facility to be shuttered for reasons most citizens are not privy to.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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