Protecting Our Inalienable Right to Subsidized Golf

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Sometimes you wonder what is going on up on Beacon Hill. In the midst of the Senate budget debate, there was a proposal to put certain state assets like golf courses and swimming pools out for operation to private managers. As we’ve noted before, the results of doing this for skating rinks has been an across the board win — continued affordability, greater access, more capital investment, and less burden on the state budget.

But Senator Timility has other ideas:

I rise in opposition to this amendment…. I’ve played Ponkapoag for years. It’s on the farmland of Henry Pearson. When they donated the land in 1894, they said it would be open and free to the commonwealth forever. Ponkapoag pond, the minute you privatize, the minute the door is shut… A person at Ponkapoag plays $27 to play golf. Why subsidize pools and rinks? People want to use that resource, and they were promised by the people who owned that land that it would be open and free. Passing this amendment means those youth programs would be gone. (from State House News Service transcript, subscription required)

His argument has three flaws — the land was donated in 1894 and golf course wasn’t built until 1936, so the notion that we are violating some donation covenant is a reach.

Plus, he’s conflating the Ponkapoag Golf Course with the larger portion of the land grant — the course sets within the Blue Hills Reservation and Ponkapoag pond is part of it. No one is talking about the open space in this amendment.

Lastly, the Senator misses the internal contradiction in his remarks. If the course was supposed to be free in perpetuity then why is there a $27 fee? It’s a real leap to make subsidized golf into a social justice issue. There’s plenty of public courses nearby, they might cost a bit more, but if we really have a $2.5 billion structural deficit, shouldn’t eliminating golf subsidies be on the table?