Every once in a while, I come across a best management practice that stands out and this case is no exception. Kurt Noonan, CGCS, is the superintendent at Juniper Golf Club in Central Oregon. He has always taken an active role in his community including hosting First Green field trips and working with local birding groups to enhance Kestrel habitat. During a site visit earlier this Fall, Kurt told me about a running race that the club hosted so I asked him if he would share what he did in the form of a story. The following is a recap of the event that Kurt provided me. This is just another way that a golf course can be used as a community asset. Check it out!
In 2016, Juniper Golf Course was host to several community events that fit in line perfectly with the CourseCo management companies’ vision of community outreach. Golf courses are a living and breathing entity and there is great potential for golf courses to be used for things other than golf. We have seen a big push over the past several years to introduce other concepts to the grounds formally reserved for only golf. Activities such as FootGolf, FlingGolf, frisbee golf, Easter egg hunts, cross country running events, drive-in movie night, camping, block parties and other events are taking place on golf courses.
Juniper GC is doing some of the events listed above, but I would like to focus on three in particular that are occurring here and are starting to take a positive foothold in our community: cross country running events, block parties and drive-in movie night. Two years ago, Juniper Golf Course hosted its first block party which brings the community out to Juniper for an afternoon of games, food, bouncy houses, dunk tanks, face painting and other fun activities at no cost to the community. Golf can go on during these activities with some advanced planning. Last year, the golf course did a drive-in movie night on our driving range in conjunction with the close of the block party. People were allowed to bring chairs, blankets and the like to sit out on the range and watch the movie on a big screen. Some folks even rented golf carts to make the effect of a “drive in” more realistic. It was well attended and well received and is scheduled to happen again in 2017.
The third event is one that is near and dear to me and that is 5k cross country running events. In February 2016, my wife and I organized the first annual “For the Love of Running” event at Juniper. The goal of this run is to raise money for a local organization. This will be an annual event with a new charitable cause picked each year. Juniper was also host to two 5k high school cross country events including the Central Oregon High School districts meet. Each of these events had about 250-300 kids running. The first high school event also included a community race before the kids went out. There were a lot of people involved with making these events happen and golf was able to be played either during, after or before each of these runs.
Golf courses are great places for many of the activities I mentioned above and lots more. Working together with staff, decision-makers and management can lead to some fun events that benefit more than just golfers. These events are great ways to show off facilities and showcase the diversity that golf courses can offer.