The Coast Guard told the Daily Mirror on Wednesday that it has not made a decision on what it is going to do with the Bear Valley Golf Course on Anton Larsen Road.
The decision to close the nine-hole golf course or keep it open will come after the 2014 golf season ends, Coast Guard District 17 public affairs officer Lt. Veronica Colbath said.
“I know there has been information that has been released that it is either closed or that it is going to close, but the final decision about the status hasn’t been made,” Colbath said.
The Bear Valley Golf Course opened in 1986 and is run by the Coast Guard’s Morale, Well-Being and Recreation program, which is designed to serve Coast Guard members and their dependents. A golf course is listed as a Category C MWR activity — the riskiest of three categories — in the Coast Guard MWR manual. Activities in Category C must be self-sustaining and have a primary audience of Coast Guard patrons, Colbath said.
Colbath said the golf course has had financial losses in three consecutive years and that the customer log shows that 60 percent of the people that use the course are not Coast Guard personnel or dependents.
“Base Kodiak understands and recognizes that the local community values the MWR golf course, but in the end of the day they really have to be good stewards of the MWR program,” she said.
Colbath said Coast Guard base Kodiak will receive a recommendation on the future of the course, but ultimately the base commander would make the decision.
She added that outside organizations and individuals could present a solution on how to finically maintain the course, but it would have to be a long-term fix instead of a short-term solution.
“One of the biggest things they realize is that the local community values the MWR golf course,” Colbath said. “Really the Coast Guard wants to maintain their relationship with the community. They want to look at what the options are and at least listen to what those options are before they determine what they are going to do at the end of the season.”
Kodiak Golf Association president Al Shaw said he isn’t sure if his 60-member association is equipped to take over the nearly 20-acre golf course.
“The Alaska (Golf) Association is encouraging us to take the process over as far as taking it as a concession from the Coast Guard and run the course for them,” Shaw said.
Shaw has golfed on the course since it’s opening and said it would be devastating if Kodiak lost the golf course, which doubles as a place to cross country ski during the winter.
“It is a wonderful place for the public to use,” Shaw said. “It would be a blow … a great impact on the community rather you are a golfer or not. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into building that place.”
Capt. Floyd Rice, Commander of Coast Guard Support Center Kodiak in the 1980s, formed the idea of a golf course in Kodiak. The only golfing at the time on the island was the Pillar Mountain Golf Classic where golfers hacked their way up the 1,200-foot mountain that overlooks the city.
It took more than a year to carve out the scenic nine-hole, par 36-course.
The Richard Blackburn-designed course officially opened on Sept. 27, 1986, with Chuck Hughes winning a one-day tournament with a score of 83 — James McCarthy has since lowered the course record to 67.
Peter Allan has played Bear Valley since it opened and joked he would move off island to continue playing golf if the course closed. He also pointed out that many organizations like Special Olympics use the facility.
“All sorts of good things happen here,” he said. “To let this go to bear pasture is just absurd — it is ridiculous.”
Contact Derek Clarkston at firstname.lastname@example.org.