Atlanta to sell beer on city golf courses to ‘enhance’ golfing experience, make money
By David Pendered
Golfers may soon be able to buy beer at Atlanta’s courses. The move intends to “enhance the customer experience,” and comes as Atlanta has invested in golf course upgrades in an era in which golf’s future is as uncertain as Tiger’s playing days.
There’s no doubt that Tiger Woods propelled interest in the game almost single-handedly since he won the 1997 Masters by a record-breaking 12 strokes. There’s no doubt he electrified audiences with a comeback to win the 2019 Masters.
But the supply is short of rising players with the charisma or magnetism to maintain interest in the game – especially among millennials, who face time constraints that don’t easily accommodate a four-hour golf game or watching the pros on TV.
The hand wringing over golf’s future is evident in the litany of stories with splashy headlines such as this one: Playing golf has gone the way of the three-martini lunch – Trump being the exception. A Dec. 5 market report showed sales of golf equipment rose in the third quarter, but for a reason others hold a dim view of the sports prospects – growth is driven by the elderly: “The steadily increasing base of retirees is having a positive impact on the golf business as well. … [T]rends indicate new participants are entering the market.”
Enter – beer.
The legislation submitted by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation is as hushed as any golf announcer:
- “WHEREAS, DPR is exploring ways to broaden the food and beverage menu at the City of Atlanta Golf Courses, to invest and expand in existing spaces and to generate additional revenues; and
- “WHEREAS, to accomplish these goals, and to enhance the customer experience at the City of Atlanta Golf Courses, DPR recommends that the City of Atlanta seek to acquire licenses for the sale and service of alcohol for consumption on the premises on the premises of these golf courses….”
The problem is that city codes don’t allow the city to sell beer on its own golf courses. The solution is to waive the prohibition.
The specific problem is the courses are too close to private homes, schools, churches or places of worship to sell beer. This is according to city codes that require a certain distance between one of these categories and any establishment that seeks to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises. Here are the details:
- “The City of Atlanta Golf Courses are located within 300 feet of private residences and within 300 feet from a public or private park or recreation center;
- “Chastain and Candler Park Golf Courses are located within 600 feet from a public or private school;
- “Chastain Park Golf Course is located within 500 feet from a church or religious place of worship….”
The parks department has determined these prohibitions are not in the best interest of the city. The department pondered the question and proposed this solution:
- “WHEREAS, it would be in the best interest of the City of Atlanta to create an exemption from the current distance requirements in Section 10-88 for the City of Atlanta Golf Courses….”
The proposal received unanimous support from members of the Atlanta City Council’s Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee at its Dec. 10 meeting. The next stop is the consent agenda of the Jan. 6, 2020 city council meeting. Items on the consent agenda have unanimous approval from the committee that handled them and typically are approved by the council with a single vote.
Regarding the city’s upgrades to its golf courses, the budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2020 includes these notes about the uprades:
- “Extensive bunker renovations at Chastain Golf Course;
“Installed new HVAC systems at Alfred ‘Tup’ Holmes and Chastain Golf Courses;
- “Installed a new 500 gallon fuel tank at Browns Mill Golf Course.
- “Delivering a best‐in‐class golf experience by securing employees and optimizing staff levels to meet operational and customer needs and also securing equipment and contracts necessary to run quality youth and senior programming at facilities”
- “Completing an analysis and long‐term planning effort for golf operations.”