Local golfers worried about loss of public golf courses

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Ryan Pruitt is having a pretty good day off as he and his buddies play a round at Washoe Golf Course.

"It was supposed to be 80 degrees today, so can't turn that down," says Pruitt.

Pruitt says he's no serious golfer, so he doesn't mind going to different courses. But there are fewer he can get into these days.

"Since 2006, they've closed quite a few," says Mike Mazzaferri, a local PGA professional who says in the last 11 years, a handful of public access golf courses have shut down. Rosewood Lakes, D'Andrea, Brookside, Northgate and Crystal Peak are no longer options for golfers in the area. Mazzaferri says when public golf courses close, it doesn't just limit options, it limits accessibility for those who can't afford to join a club. And he says the industry is hurting.

"Our golfers are born at public golf courses and if we don't have public access golf courses, we're not going to grow the game," says Mazzaferri.

Now, he's worried Wildcreek Golf Course could be the next casualty. The Washoe County School District is exploring the option of acquiring the land to build a high school on the land. The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority purchased the property more than 40 years ago to help with tourism. Now, the RSCVA says it loses $200,000 to $300,000 each year on maintaining and operating the facility.

"A lot of options are on the table," says Ben McDonald, spokesperson for the RSCVA. "I've heard that there are options to keep some of the holes in existence.

Mazzaferri wants more people in Washoe County to be aware of what is happening with public golf courses. It's why he and others in the golf industry spoke at a public forum Wednesday evening at the Reno Elks Lodge.

"Like I said, we need a place for kids to play and to go and those are far and few between now," he says.