Sunday, July 22, 2007


Lining up a birdie putt on the 6th hole


A Commentary

“Groundbreaking for the nation’s newest golf retreat will be conducted Thursday.

Guess where it’s happening, folks? How about right here.”

So opens Randy King, sports reporter at The Roanoke Times, in his weekend feature piece on the new Ballyhack Golf Retreat in Roanoke County. For me, the new course sounds like heaven. Any course with the word ball and hack in the name suggest lots of lost golf balls, and I’m one who enjoys hunting for them.

The Ballyhack course, however, will not be built for hacks. It will be a true championship course, one of the best links courses in the country. While links courses were originally developed in Scotland near the seashore, they’ve evolved into a style of course which utilizes open spaces, mounds, uneven fairways, and deep pot bunkers. In other words, the course utilizes the natural lay of the land. Ballyhack will do that, too.

The new course in Roanoke County is being marketed nationally. Only about 60 local memberships are being sought while 200 national members are being hunted. The founders of the course plan to market the course as a business retreat for the high-powered rollers across the country.

Why would someone want to come out to Roanoke to play golf? Randy King suggests the reasons in his article. Corporate business people are searching for places to play that are out of the mainstream, away from the hustle of the big city. Roanoke is attractive because it’s a nestled community far from the reach of unchecked urban sprawl and it’s close to Scottish Highland-like peace. In addition, “A terrific golf course is what makes the draw,” said Roanoke native Jonathan Ireland, [Ballyhack’s] director of golf operations.

Destination: Roanoke.

Reason: Golf.

Travel: Corporate and Commercial Air.

Accommodations: Local Hotel and onsite.

Local Business Impact: Definitely

With a steady stream of high profile golfers migrating to the region to play Ballyhack, these golfers will certainly be looking around for more to do. Perhaps they will visit Mill Mountain. Certainly they’ll eat out at some local fine restaurants. They’ll shop at our city market. Maybe they’ll ride a trolley. Perhaps they’ll visit the new art museum. Very likely, however, these visitors will be looking for places to play more golf. As they arrive in our Magic City, they’ll pass over a wide swatch of green space as they are landing, a golf course. They’ll become curious. They’ll investigate and then invest. If the city favors the wise course of developing Countryside into a fine Municipal golf course (Torrey Pines) and recreation area, our visitors will spend an afternoon on a round of fine golf before they return to their world. Soon, word will spread of a golf-friendly community rich in peace, charm, and golf nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. That’s my vision. That’s what I can see as being possible. None of that can happen if Roanoke City decides to squander its opportunity. Developing the Countryside property as a municipal golf course and recreation facility makes sense from a community, environmental, and business standpoint.

Let’s Talk Recreation

“I would love for us to be able to address a nice recreation center in the Northwest area,” Dowe said. “I’m not sure where in Northwest, but I’d certainly like to see us address that first.”

So begins Mason Adams in his July 22 edition of the Roanoke Times news piece.

I can suggest a place for Mr. Dowe’s recreation center. How about right next to William Fleming High School allowing for easy access to ½ the teenaged population in Roanoke City? How about including golf, swimming, tennis, biking, running, and walking in to the recreation center concept? How about fully utilizing the current space occupied by the Countryside pool, tennis courts and empty space between those and the high school for the recreation center hub? Why not? It just takes a vision and a will.

Having a recreation center next to William Fleming makes perfect sense for the Countryside property, much more sense than a large scale residential, high-density housing, commercial development now being contemplated.

A recreation center operated by city parks and recreation next to the high school will afford the youth of the city access to a wide variety of wholesome pursuits. Combined with open access to all city residents from all age groups, this multigenerational center could become a true anchor for the Northwest and a golden feather in the city’s cap. Why not? It just takes a vision and a will.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary

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No Comments


July 22nd, 2007 at 3:41 PM    

You beat me to it! All should email City Council to make this point. This begs for a Commentary but I can’t since it has not been 30 days. I posted on the Roanoke Times message board about it.


July 22nd, 2007 at 4:05 PM    

Anyone up for the 60 slots here in Roanoke – who is first in line with
membership deposits “from $40,000 to $130,000, with annual dues from $2,500 to $10,000. All of those numbers vary depending on a member’s location and status.”

The idea that this affluent golf resort is being built while Countryside Golf Course an affordable PUBLIC golf course for the masses is headed for development angers me so I need to take some time to recover before my next post.


July 22nd, 2007 at 5:50 PM    

Newt, good luck in getting within a mile of Ballyhack to hunt for golf balls. Nice try though …

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