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Old Soldier’s Home Golf Course Recruiting New Members in Petworth

by Prince Of Petworth — May 17, 2017 at 10:30 am 56 Comments


140 rock Creek Church Rd, NW

From an email:

““MEMBERS WANTED AT THE OLD SOLDIERS HOME GOLF COURSE LOCATED AT THE ARMED FORCES RETIREMENT HOME IN PETWORTH. For many of you who may be unaware, the Old Soldier’s Home Golf Course, located on the same property as President Lincoln’s Cottage, is open for membership and current members are interested in recruiting new members to help keep the golf course running optimally. This nine-hole golf course and driving range is currently one of the best kept secrets in Washington, D.C. and current members are looking to change that. In the past, the approximately 200 active members of the course may have been inclined to keep the course a secret because it had enough money to operate, so this may be one of the reasons why so few people even know the course exists and that joining is very easy!

Due to a recent drop-off in funding, the plan for the 2017 season is for the members to volunteer a few hours each week to maintain and run the course, mainly, physically maintaining the course by cutting the grass, etc. Those members will still be paying a $700 annual membership for the privilege to play the course and participate in the maintenance, which we believe is a strong testament to how much this golf course is valued by its current members. With an increase in membership, this will not be necessary and members will be free to enjoy as much golf as their schedules can handle.

The Old Soldiers Home Golf Course is attractive to DC residents for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, unlimited golf within city limits, the course’s convenient location, low projected annual cost for membership and a great atmosphere with phenomenal views of DC. Currently, with 200 active members, any one member can essentially play the entire course at any time without seeing another soul. Therefore, we believe that we could double the current membership and the course would still maintain a very private/intimate atmosphere while the increased funding would benefit the course for the enjoyment of all members. An additional benefit to increasing the membership base would be to alleviate the financial burden on the AFRH itself, which currently provides the course some funding, albeit not enough to keep it running the right way. In the future, we would love for the course to operate solely on membership fees so that the money the AFRH currently diverts to the course could serve our retired veterans living at the AFRH in other ways.

Anyone that is interested in becoming a member is encouraged to visit the course free of charge by visiting the course at 140 rock Creek Church Rd NW. Just tell the gate staff at the entrance that you are headed to the golf course and you can see for yourself how much potential the course really has. Additionally, please feel free to contact the members spearheading this campaign by emailing us at [email protected] with any questions you may have.”

Resident testimonial:

“Playing a course in the middle of DC, steps from Lincoln’s cottage, is fantastic. I’m incredibly grateful to the residents of the Old Soldiers Home for sharing their back yard with us and am committed to helping them keep their much-loved facility open. It needs community support to survive. I encourage everyone, even those who have never played, to try this incredibly accessible and enjoyable course.” Catherine Mellor, Petworth Resident

  • Anon. no. 5

    So you get to pay club dues and perform unpaid labor? Win-win!

    • AnonPetworth

      No… from the article: “With an increase in membership, this will not be necessary and members will be free to enjoy as much golf as their schedules can handle.” At the current 200 members, they don’t have enough dues to pay for full course maintenance, but with 400 members, they will have enough money to hire the work out.

      • Nick

        Author- “exactly”

  • BP

    are they really going to stick to this? I like the $700 but im not cutting the grass.

  • Anon

    Damn, $700 and manual labor for the privilege? Sign me right up!

  • lizcolleena

    Wait so the DoD-funded AFRH funds a private golf course? Does that seem strange to everyone else?

    • textdoc

      Apparently DoD _used_ to fund the golf course, but no longer does so. See:
      https://www.popville.com/2016/09/if-we-cant-raise-250000-by-december-the-golf-course-will-close/

      • lizcolleena

        Thanks. That makes me feel a bit better at least.

    • wdc

      I think it’s strange that this even quivers your outrage needle.

      • lizcolleena

        finding something strange = outrage?

    • Blithe

      Does it seem strange to me that a retirement home for veterans has recreational facilities? Nope. Does it seem strange to me that over the years, funding for maintaining the facilities has dwindled? Unfortunately, Nope. Does it seem strange to me that as the push to find private solutions to things that used to be publicly funded has increased, a solution to maintain the golf course involving memberships purchased by those who can afford them is being used? Again: Nope.

      — As an aside, does anyone know if the duck pond/ fishing pond(?) is ever — or still– open to the public? Stopping by the pond on the way to school was one of the serene treats of my childhood.

      • jonah

        To my knowledge it is not open to the public. Though during events like Oktoberfest and Springfest they often do let you wander down to see it and have fishing poles for kids.

        • Blithe

          Thanks!

      • Jake

        Actually, the public funding source that was the largest source for it’s budget was from Service Members fines and forfeitures. Those over the years have dropped off as the force is apparently better behaved.
        .
        https://www.afrh.gov/sites/default/files/AFRH_CBJ_2017.pdf
        .
        Another major contributor was in 2006 Congress used the AFRH trust fund to cover the costs of rebuilding the Gulfport, MS location due to Hurricane Katrina. That outflow from the fund set it up for eventual insolvency, such as it is today.

      • Stacys

        Blithe – It was open on 4th of July last summer. They had rods and volunteers to help with the bait and the release part of catch-and-release.

        • Blithe

          Thanks Stacys! I’ll check and see if they’ll be open this year as well.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not sure what you mean by “private”. The course is part of the AFRH campus, so like the rest of the land and buildings, they pay some to maintain it. In addition, the maintenance cost is supported by fees paid by those who use the golf course. I can’t figure out what of this seems strange to you.

      • lizcolleena

        By private I mean not open to the public. You know, the way most publicly-funded recreational places are.

        • Anonymous

          It’s a retirement home. A facility that is not open to the public. So I don’t know why it would seem strange to you. I understand the argument for making the golf course open to the public, and I support it, and it seems like they’re headed in that direction; but given that it is part of a facility that is generally not open to the public (and quite reasonably so) I don’t see anything strange about it.

        • Anonymous

          And as Jake alludes to below, the government pays for many “recreational” facilities that are not open to the public.

          • jonah

            Right. Try to get a into the bowling lanes in EOB.

    • Jake

      The DoD funds a lot of gulf courses! However, most installations are able to cover the costs of them through non-appropriated funds (NAF) revenue generating activities. e.g. the gulf course itself, post exchange, food courts, gas stations, etc

      However, those that are in remote and isolated locations are authorized a certain amount of appropriated funds support if needed.

    • Anon

      DoD has never funded any of AFRH’s operations, including the golf course. Unless you count the active duty enlisted and warrant officers who have $0.50 a month taken from their paycheck or the fines and forfeitures that are garnished from their checks when they do something bad. AFRH runs on a self-sustained trust fund. A bit different than most Federal agencies, including DoD, who receives appropriations. Encourage you to learn more by going to their website: https://www.afrh.gov/ and reading their Performance and Accountability Report or Congressional Budget Justification.

      • Anon

        Also, 24 USC Chapter 10

  • Petwoth Golfer

    Seems like an interesting way to keep it running. Last I heard, the DoD was cutting funding for the course, so they’re likely exploring ways (albeit unconventional) to keep it afloat. Doesn’t seem like a terrible deal. I plan to go check it out.

  • ParkViewr

    Here’s how I look at it: You can play 20-25 rounds at Langston or Hains Point, or play unlimited rounds here for the same price. The point of the paragraph above is simple to me: “An additional benefit to increasing the membership base would be to alleviate the financial burden on the AFRH itself, which currently provides the course some funding, albeit not enough to keep it running the right way. In the future, we would love for the course to operate solely on membership fees so that the money the AFRH currently diverts to the course could serve our retired veterans living at the AFRH in other ways.” I’ll get my hands a little dirty for that.

  • JB

    I read this email as saying that if they get enough new members, then they won’t NEED to have volunteer labor to maintain the course:

    “Those members will still be paying a $700 annual membership for the privilege to play the course and participate in the maintenance, which we believe is a strong testament to how much this golf course is valued by its current members. With an increase in membership, this will not be necessary and members will be free to enjoy as much golf as their schedules can handle.”

    Right?

    • Nick

      Author – “correct. our hope is that with increased membership, we will have the necessary dues to higher a management company that would eliminate the need for volunteer management, which is far less than an ideal way to run a course. I agree with some of the comments below that state that they (as well as most people we think) would be willing to pay more than $700/year if this were to be the case. With enough public support that allows us to estimate a viable membership base, our hope is to have an accurate estimate of what membership fees should be going forward and then communicate that out.”

  • Grant Circle

    I think the solution is to have more Soldiers and Airmen get in trouble. The largest source of funding for AFRH is fines and forfeitures from Article 15s and Courts Martial. However, since 2009 that revenue stream has plummeted. It’s time to ask our servicemembers to think of those who came before them by being irresponsible enough to get fined.

    • Anon. no. 5

      Don’t enlisted members get $1 of their pay deducted every month as well for the AFRHs?

      • Marty

        $0.50 per month for enlisted and warrant officers.

  • stcohi

    I tried in vain to get someone to answer my calls and emails about joining last summer, but to no avail.

    • anonagolfer

      me too. club “pro” was always absent.

    • Dash Newton

      As a former jock, I tried to volunteer time to caddie for AFRH vets and left my name/number with the ‘pro’ a couple years ago — and again last year. Never heard back. Regardless, is there word as to whether it’ll be open year round? I feel like it closed after Oct/Nov last year due to the budget issues. Would be a factor in signing up, as I live in the neighborhood.

      • ANON

        ever caddie for the Llama? you know…the Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking.

  • DeanWillow

    I joined last year. Overall, it was worth it. I enjoyed playing a round with the residents and/or other associate members. During the middle of the summer, the course was empty and you could play nine holes in just over an hour and not see a soul. It didn’t cost much — around $500 (May through September). Unfortunately, the course was in horrible shape. By the end of last summer, the greens were so bad it was almost unplayable. I am holding off joining this year. They are currently only open from 8am to 5pm. I work during the week so I would only be able to play on the weekends. If I have to “volunteer” 2 hours per week, there is almost no time to play. I am hoping they get it together since I know the residents want the course. It is a shame it has gotten to this point.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      Does it have carts and stuff like that included?

      • DeanWillow

        No. Carts are extra. Range balls are extra.

  • ANON

    Just to be clear, the facilities (AFRH both DC and Gulfport, MS) are funded by a mandatory charge on all junior enlisted paychecks (I think it is like 50 cents a check or something minimal.) It is not funded through taxpayer money, unless you argue that the military paycheck still counts as taxpayer funding.

    Unfortunately, that charge has not gone up in a generation or two, and was never indexed for inflation so it can’t keep up with new costs. This is the reason for the cut backs on facilities such as the golf course.

    What really needs to be done is the senior enlisted board in charge of the home should increase the fee to a dollar per paycheck and index it for inflation.

    • Grant Circle

      All Enlisted and Warrant officers.

  • pwc

    I’ve played the course a few times with my friend, who has been a member for a couple of years. The course has a primo location, and it’s a decent 9 hole set-up. Langston is always packed on weekends, and Rock Creek is of somewhat dubious quality. For $700, membership is a great deal. The fundamental challenge is that the course is *not* allowed to engage in commercial activity. It’s not open to the public. They’re not allowed to have a public driving range. They’re not allowed to really have much of a clubhouse set-up. It’s a tricky situation that they’re in. I would like to see the DoD bid the course management to the private sector, but unfortunately, I think that’s also prohibited. It has a lot of potential, but it’s hamstrung by various rules and regs.

  • A

    I live very close by and was interest d I need joining…. But then I saw the condition of the course…. and the lack of amenities. I’d rather pay a slightly higher fees fora better kept course and bare minimum amenities. Right now, they basically have a shack that’s falling apart and a few soda machines. People will pay for quality, but not at a course that doesn’t even meet public course standards.
    .
    Has anyone contacted Mayor Bowser, Phil Mendolson, Brandon Todd or Eleanor Holmes Norton for help funding? Seems like a no-brained for such a great amenity that also helps retired veterans.

    • jonah

      This is federal property. Mayor Bowser, Phil Mendelson, and Brandon Todd have no oversight. Also this property is in Ward 5 so you would contact Kenyan McDuffie.

      • A

        While they have no oversight, they’re support and assistance would certainly HELP find funding. McDuffie has generally been responsive to the needs or his constituents. Maybe he and Todd could work together since it straddles their districts? What about the At-Large members?
        .
        Eleanor Holmes Norton would probably need to take the lead though.

    • Anonymous

      Depends on how you look at it. I paid the membership fee for several years and lived with the bare minimum amenities because on a good day I could fly through a 9-hole round in under an hour. I am not sure I will be renewing my membership this year. I would love to see the course get better. And more memberships is the key to that under the current plan. But the more members, the more the course is used, the more time it takes to play. There is a point at which the quality of the course doesn’t justify the time investment. I might be willing to spend 2-3 hours on 9 holes of golf at a first-class facility. But not for 9 holes of golf on the course as it was last year.

  • say what

    We have a membership and have not used it enough. I can’t beleive how poorly the manage this asset. They should continue to expand the membership but what they really need is just a membership to have access to the grounds for dog walkng, running etc. You can sometimes get away with that. but as of now, if I walk my dog to the gate, I can’t get in because I need the sticker on my car AND some gold clubs to not look shady. Hell, they should fence off a huge portion as a dog park and sharge people a membership for that. Its beautiful to walk around there, they need to just create a more open membership plan. Hell, I wish they would build a pool and charge membership for that. But I am not cutting the grass. what a cluster fuck of an idea.

    • A

      Agree. This is such an untapped resource in our neighborhood with so much potential. Sounds like no one is really “leading” this effort.
      .
      If people are buying million dollar houses nearby, they’d pay a whole lot more than $700/year for a 9 hole course within blocks. Most Country Clubs charge $25,000/year. I’d pay a great deal to be able to run, take my kids or job in the park.

  • Anonymous

    I have been a member for the past 4 years. I enjoyed the convenience of being able to go out and play 9 holes just a few blocks from my house. For the last membership year they raised the fee and cut back the hours. I renewed anyway. The course wasn’t in great shape but it was still a worthwhile investment from my perspective. I am not sure I will join again this year. But I hope their plan works out.
    I think this is a bit of a catch 22 situation. What made the course worthwhile for me was being able to go out and play pretty much anytime I wanted without having to wait for anyone. The more memberships, the more people on the course, the longer a round of golf becomes. I was willing to play on a beat up course if I could whiz through in an hour or so. I’m not willing to play a 2 or 3 hour 9-hole round on a beat up course. They would really have to up the quality of the facility for it to be worth a multi-hour investment from me.

  • anon7

    The District should try to obtain a parcel of this land to make it a park. Even just a couple acres would be nice. I walk by the grounds all the time and have never seen anyone on it. Seems like such a waste.

    • textdoc

      “The District should try to obtain a parcel of this land to make it a park.” My understanding is that the grounds basically _did_ function as a public park… until the riots of 1968, after which the AFRH was (understandably) concerned and put up the fence. Sort of a “this is why we can’t have nice things” scenario.

      • Blithe

        I’m pretty sure that the iron fencing was installed way before 1968 — although the barbed wire on top of the iron fence may have been added later. What changed is that the formerly easy access to the grounds became much more restricted. My sense is that accessing the grounds felt more like being a guest of a benevolent neighbor than frequenting a public park — in that there were activities and areas that were clearly restricted, and reserved for the sole use of the residents of the facility.

  • anon

    Terrible use of land. I hope nobody joins and they build city blocks with much-needed housing on them.

    • Nate

      Providing recreation to retired military members in their senior years is a terrible use of land?!?!?!

      Troll harder.

  • Ben Streeter

    Drove half an hour to go check it out. Waste of time. They only let you in on Saturday and Sunday. Thanks a lot for specifying that in your post! Could have saved me an hour plus driving back and forth and could have gotten a couple members. No thanks!

  • AnonGolfer

    I love this Golf Course and the proximity to my home in Petworth. I started playing golf when I moved into the area years ago because of this course. The conditions of the golf course have dropped considerably in the last few years and it is unfortunate. I am going to renew my membership and hope that we can get the 400 associate members. We shouldn’t give up on a great gem that has been neglected.

  • Brian

    One key missing step is to reach out to past members. I was a member 2013 thru 2016 and last I heard was no golf this year. I haven’t gotten any update since fall and will happily renew. My contact details haven’t changed, so others may be out their ready to join but don’t realize it has reopened.

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