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Oak Hills Golf Course: A Bogie Or an Eagle?

Updated on August 8, 2016

Golf Pro Vincent Grillo Jr. 2008

5th Hole at Oak Hills Golf Course

Fifth Hole, Oak Hills Golf Course, Norwalk, Connecticut
Fifth Hole, Oak Hills Golf Course, Norwalk, Connecticut

In the early 1960s there was a movement among a few local leaders to push for an 18-hole municipal golf course in Norwalk. The city had enough vision to see that the proposal would benefit the entire community.

That's good!

Not so good: No sooner had the golf course become a reality than the city was plagued by a major scandal that ended in the facility's first administrator facing criminal charges in connection with the course.

That's bad!

Not so bad: To counter the community's loss of confidence in the golf course, former Norwalk Mayor Frank N. Zullo coaxed the city's most highly respected citizen, the late Eric C. Malmquist, retired Norwalk High School principal, to take the job of administrator and put the course on the straight and narrow.

That's good!

Not so good: Malmquist retired after 10 years, and the Oak Hills board of governors embarked on a series of double-bogies that laid the groundwork for the mess that ultimately developed.

For instance, the lengthening of two holes (the 17th and the 1st) did not come without turmoil, and a decision to try to gain added income from the successful operation of the snack bar by putting the lease out to bid began a decades-long boondoggle that remains substantially unresolved

That's bad!

Not so bad: The city has created a golf authority that will focus its attention and expertise on making Oak Hills Park a facility that pays for itself, takes care of its own needs and ends the decades-long bickering about the facility.

That's good!

Not so good: The transition from a dedicated, but inexpert, commission to a less encumbered authority that could put greater focus on running the facility efficiently hasn't even gotten off the tee yet. The major concerns at Oak Hills remain in limbo: What about a clubhouse, restaurant, administration offfices? Who will reap the profits from the lucrative golf carts? What about an administrator to run the course?

That's bad!

Not so bad: While these are difficult problems, they are not unsolvable.

My view -- in the confines of this tiny space -- is that everyone should get on the same cart, squeeze the politics out of the issue and get these questions resolved quickly, but intelligently.

Recommended: Turn the whole enchilada over to the new authority immediately; it's their baby!

The authority should approve a restaurant designed for golfers, not for some restaurateur's ego and profits.

Renegotiate the lease for the carts with the pro (Make a better deal, of course, but don't put the city in a business it knows nothing about!)

Forget the petty issues unrelated to the golf course administration and hire an administrator, immediately. What's wrong with the incumbent?

Finally, why not use the area of the 18th hole for a driving range and, if possible, avoid blasting by running the new hole over the rocky, wooded area.

That's good, I hope!

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Nov. 1, 1997. Since then a new restaurant for golfers and nongolfers apparently is flourishing, along with a number of other course and park improvements. But community opposition leaves the course without a driving range. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

Young Henry Grillo Hits the Green With a 5 Iron at Oak Hills


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    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, Doona and Hoodala, for your welcome comments. The Oak Hills commissioners really dropped the ball on this one. It took many years to recover from its initial greed and incompetence. Things appear to be much better now.

    • Hoodala profile image

      Hoodala 9 years ago from Mesa

      The good the bad and apparently a little ugly thrown in for good measure. There are always problems when governments try to act as businesses.

    • donnaleemason profile image

      donnaleemason 9 years ago from North Dakota, USA

      Knowing less than nothing about golf, I do understand however how administration can screw up a perfectly good idea.

      Well done William.