The worst best deal in golf?

How could you say no to a deal like this? For $300, you get unlimited golf seven days a week (no charge if you walk; cart rental only if you ride) at five South Hampton Roads golf courses — Ocean View, Kempsville Greens, Bow Creek, Lambert’s Point and Red Wing Lake.

OK, you have to pay $25 to play Red Wing, but that’s a pretty good discount at a very nice course.

The other courses? Lambert’s Point is a great practice facility, but its nine-hole course is one of the most challenging layouts in the area … at least for those of us who struggle to hit the ball straight. Miss one of those narrow fairways and you don’t have to bother looking for your golf ball. It’s probably never going to be in high demand.

Neither is Bow Creek, but for other reasons (no disrespect).

So aside from Red Wing, you have the quirky Kempsville Greens and the wide-open, welcoming Ocean View, which is in the best shape it has been in for years under the new management of longtime Bide-A-Wee pro Andy Giles.

And there’s the problem. Lots and lots of golfers, many of them brand new to the game, flocking primarily to two courses. At Ocean View, where Nuther-Duffer has been a proud member for 10 years or so, the course is elbow-to-elbow, all day, every day. Prior to the new deal, on many weekdays you could check in at the clubhouse, head straight to the first tee and get in 18 holes in less than three hours.

On one recent Monday, with the temperature at a brisk 45 degrees, Nuther-Duffer was lucky to find an opening in the lineup and then faced a wait on almost every tee. Teed off at 11:30 and felt lucky to get a full round in before dark.

Weekends? One pair of regulars mentioned that they’d recently played a round that took eight hours.

And it isn’t just the players who are feeling some pain. Realistically, if you’re going to sell memberships at $100 a year, you are counting on making all of your money on cart rentals, equipment sales and concessions. The bad news, according to many of the starters, is that all of those new members are walking. That’s great for community health, bad for the future of these five golf courses.

Those new folks also tend to bring their own sandwiches and buy their balls at WalMart.

Nuther-Duffer hopes this works out for everyone involved. But he has his doubts.

Stay tuned.


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