Golfers who utilize the Comanche Golf Course are tee’d off and not in the way one would expect. The golfers are upset that the annual lease given to Rudy and Janet Smith, the operators of the course, wasn’t renewed. Their anger was vindicated Friday evening at a special city council meeting that offered Rudy and Janet Smith a one-year lease. Rudy Smith said there was standing-room only with more than 80 people in attendance at the special meeting.
Smith said she received a letter from the City of Comanche, signed by City Manager Brant Ball, informing them of the termination of the lease last Thursday. In the letter it says “The City Council voted to not extend the lease for the upcoming year ... but allowed you to continue operating and maintaining the golf course for a three (3) month period, July August and September, 2010. During that time, the Council will pursue alternatives.”
The lease calls for the Smiths to pay $1,500 annually. In return they get to keep all the revenue generated from the course.
Numerous golfers were so disgusted with the treatment of the Smith’s that they were taking their carts and all their equipment home from the course. Many even went as far to say they will never golf at that course again.
“I think it was done without thought of the consequences and with callousness,” Rhonda Anderson, a regular at the course, said. “Even if the city (Comanche) takes it over, it still won’t be the same.”
Anderson said that she and her husband chose to become members of the Comanche Golf Course because of the people, not the greens. She explained that her husband has had three tours in Iraq and golfing at the Comanche Golf Course was one of his hobbies.
“We have played a lot of courses and we chose to come here,” she said. “We wanted to get ties back with the community and we chose to do that here.”
Ball said decision to not renew the lease came after the Comanche City Council toured the course and weren’t impressed with the condition of the greens and fairways. The conditions of the playing surfaces weren’t the only negatives the council observed. Ball said parts of the course, not on the playing surface, were covered with junk, old vehicles and needed to be mowed.
The sticking point for the council, according to Ball, was the deterioration of some of the greens. Ball said when the council asked Rudy Smith questions about improving the greens, they weren’t satisfied with his answers which lead to the refusal to extend the lease.
“People are already going to different courses because of the greens,” Ball said. “We are going to get them back. We want our course to be representative of the area.”
According to the golfers at the course, the city council and Ball couldn’t be more wrong. They said they don’t chose to golf at the Comanche course because of its condition, they choose to golf at the Comanche course because fellowship.
“The greens aren’t great but they’re not millionaires,” Harvey Garrett, a daily patron of the course, said. “For a little community course, this is great.”
Tina Godin said it feels like the City of Comanche is tearing apart a family.
“We don’t come out here and golf for the greens,” she said. “We come out here for the people.”
In a turn of events, the Comanche City Council offered a renewed one year lease to the Smiths. Ball said the council will help set up a golf advisory board consisting of Smith, three golfers and a city councilor.
“I’m still kind of irked about the whole thing,” Rudy said. “But, I am doing it for the people who golf out here.”
— David Laughlin is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 144, or via e-mail at david.laughlin@ duncanbanner.com.