Requiem for a golf course

Friends, Renans, Countryclubbers and Golf Kooks … lend me your ears, beers and tears. I come today to sound a sad knell, the knell of a golf course that’s gone all to hell. Or, to use the more current street jive of a rude dude with some funked up ‘tude, “Yo, RSCVA, what is UP with the fate of The Gate?"The slow, ugly, three-year decline of what used to be a scenic, challenging and completely enjoyable course in northwest Reno, aka Northgate, has been tough to stomach. Where it used to be spiffy, it is now scruffy. Where it used to be sharp, it is now shabby. This is ungood.

In the early ‘90s, the place was lean, mean and green (mostly), a true Great Basin golf experience. The treeless fairways were lined on each side with sagebrush and bitter brush, and the absence of ponds and creeks was more than offset by all the grassy pot bunkers. The putting greens were notorious for being fast, hard and, at times, unfair. But those long, wicked putts that rode ridgebacks and humps only to roll off the green—well, some of them might have been pissers, but they gave the place a uniquely entertaining flavor. And those putts were always fair, I noticed, when they were struck by your buddies.

I was thinking back to those halcyon days of only a few years ago as I lined up a recent putt on a particularly sorry-ass stretch of bizarre terrain that used to be the back part of the fearsome 15th green. To get near the cup 25 feet away, my ball would first have to head through some patchy-lookin’ pseudo-grass, then proceed over a completely bald patch of hard brown dirt, and then hopefully veer toward the cup on the ridge of a little furrow-type thing that had some kind of grass-like substance growing in its trough. It was the kind of putt a golfer shouldn’t see this side of The Hooterville Cemetery of Sod.

So what IS up, RSCVA, owners of Northgate? Here in the middle of an unprecedented golf boom featuring crazed turistas prowling the country in search of new golf thrills, you’ve managed to let a perfectly lovely high desert golf course go straight down the toilet. Now I see you’re talking about pouring new millions into the National Bowling Stadium in order to expand its convention and meeting space and blah, blah, blah. Let me speak for all local golfers when I react to that news in this way: urk.

RSCVA, I don’t have any problem with the bowling stadium. I think it’s just peachy that our city is home to the Taj Mahal of Bowling. But if Northgate received one-tenth of the love you channel to the goddamn bowling stadium, you’d have freaking St. Andrew’s of The Coyotes up there. Well, that may be a bit over the top, but at the very least, it would be nice to once again line up a 25-footer without having to send the ball through three distinct ecosystems.