A fine day for golf

A free round of golf is what you can expect if you happen to visit the U golf course on Sunday mornings in May.

“As long as your name is on the waiting list before noon, your golf is free,” said James Kilgore, head pro of the U course since November of 2002.

Kilgore, who came up with the idea of free Sunday golf, was aware that he was taking a chance by advertising such an offer on the radio.

“You never know what’s going to happen when you throw the word ‘free’ on the radio,” Kilgore said.

Mike Nickas, assistant pro at the golf course for three years, knew exactly what would happen.

“Any time you mention the word ‘free’ on the radio, people turn up in droves,” Nickas said.

Customers have waited for free golf for more than an hour and a half, Nickas said.

“It’s definitely increased our Sunday traffic,” Nickas said.

Once considered one of the best in the country, the U golf course also offers golfers a chance to play at inexpensive prices during the week.

“We’re at least a dollar less expensive than any other comparable nine-hole golf course in the city,” Nickas said. “You get an awful lot of bang for your buck at this golf course.”

Golfers agree that a round at the university course is well priced.

“I like the fact that I can golf here for $5, and $4 during the week,” said Ted Wright, a junior in business marketing.

“I think it’s a good way to promote the course as well as get people active,” Wright said.

But even with all the promotion and a possible influx of customers, Kilgore says that the golf course will closed in a few years to make way for an expansion of other university departments.

“I have heard as high as the president’s office that it’s still out three to five years, but it is inevitable,” said Kilgore, who sees the impending closure as a hardship on current business. “It makes it real hard for me to run a business. We sell season passes, and people are hesitant to buy.”

Kilgore, who says he understands the decision to close the course, does not see it as the end of golf on this campus.

“I’m going to be writing a proposal to build a golf learning center on the lower holes. I think we could satisfy all the entities we serve now on a third of the space we currently occupy,” he said.

For the people who work at the course, however, it isn’t closed yet, and they would still like to see the success of their advertisements.

Nickas, who sees the course as a well-kept secret, feels that free golf is an opportunity to recruit new customers.

“All anyone needs to do is see it and experience the golf course.”

Christopher Peddecord

Albert Lee watches his putt on the final hole of the U Golf Course Sunday afternoon. Every Sunday morning, the U Golf Course offers access to the course for free.