Dave Kinney, 65, of Hagerstown, said he has golfed at Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run for the past 15 to 20 years.
And the March chill didn’t stop him from turning up for the tee-off of the nine-hole public course on Cleveland Avenue, which re-opened for the golf season Friday.
“Well, we’re ready to play some golf, but (it’s a) little chilly,” Kinney, with a gray wrap protecting his ears, laughed.
City owned and operated, the 66-acre, par 34 golf course has undergone a series of upgrades over the past two years, this season debuting an expanded menu and the sale of adult beverages in the clubhouse, said Amy Riley, the city’s recreation promotion and services coordinator.
“I think people are really impressed and excited, and I think ... we’re in a rebranding stage for the golf course,” she said. “We are newly improved and I think people are impressed when they walk into the clubhouse and actually see it for themselves.”
Last year’s tee-off saw improvements to both the clubhouse, which had been built in 1961 and not updated since, and the greens.
“It takes chemicals and know-how to keep the greens in playable condition,” said pro shop employee Chris Henry, noting he believes the changes came in light of the city’s increased initiative and spending regarding the course.
“This year we’ve already had a couple sign up, new members that weren’t members last year, so I think word of mouth is getting out that we’re improving the golf course,” Henry said.
Clubhouse upgrades included a new A-frame roof, energy-efficient windows and door, an open layout for tables and chairs, pro shop desk, staffed concessions area, a new deck overlooking the course and indoor and outdoor seating. The restrooms and all facilities were additionally relocated to the clubhouse’s upstairs.
While only a few golfers like Kinney braved the winter weather Friday, weekend days last year typically saw between 60 to 100 golfers, Henry said.
A Wednesday league comprised of 32 golfers last year additionally has him hopeful Tuesday and Thursday leagues will take off this year.
The “rebranding” of the course, as Riley terms it, hasn’t been without its challenges, however.
Last year, Henry said, the course had only 10 members.
“When the city voted to have it just city residents only, we took a hit on membership,” he said. “I know in the past, people who lived in the county could be a member here at a higher fee. But that went away, now you have to be actually in the city limits.”
Henry notes a negative perception of the course having been prominent over the past couple of years.
“Last year we were in very good shape but before that the course had some difficulty with the greens and conditions,” he said.
“Older people that have played here for 30 years, it’s been the best shape they’ve ever seen last year,” he said. “So we have to continue that trend this year.”
Kinney, who plays mostly on Mondays and Fridays, attests to the course’s upgrades, but thinks there is room for improvement.
“It’s better, except (there are) a couple of things we would like to see, but it’s a lot better than it was,” Kinney said, noting he would like to see the ninth hole changed to a par-five due to its difficulty.
According to Riley, the course will host a Hagerstown-Washington County Area Chamber of Commerce Morning Mixer on May 22 from 7 to 9 a.m.
“That’s part of the process we’re excited about — is letting business, restaurants, other organizations know that they could host a business league at our newly remodeled clubhouse and golf course, or host a tournament as a fundraiser for their organization,” she said.
Riley also cited the course’s lack of tee-time requirements as an asset to golfers on the go.
“I just know that life’s changing, people are busy, so being able to offer a a nine-hole course with no tee-times for convenience and affordability is definitely an advantage we have,” she said.
For golfers such as Kinney, the course is both affordable and convenient allowing him to participate in the pastime he has adored for decades.
“It’s a good sport — makes you humble real quick,” he said.
Rates for Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run
$20 - 18 holes with cart
$15 - Senior rate, 18 holes with cart
$5 - Sandwich, soup and drink
Youth, 16 and under, nine-hole, $9; 18-hole, $12
Adult, 17 to 61 years, nine-hole, $11; 18-hole $14
Seniors, 62 and over, nine-hole, $9; 18-hole, $12
Twilight, not applicable weekends and holidays, only nine-hole, $8
Weekends and holidays, nine-hole, $14; 18-hole, $17
Membership season passes, must live within city limits
Coupon Booklet, green fees only, may be used Monday through Friday
Play nine holes, nine times, $60, regular; $50, seniors
Play 18 holes, nine times, $110, regular; $85, seniors