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Fore Man

Lower crime. Better schools. Golf?

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The current driving range is on a former landfill site — not exactly a luscious Pebble Beach. The city also owns the bordering property, which will be used for the new nine-hole course.

Dinesh Tiwari is the director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities for Richmond and is taking the lead on this project for the city. Style caught up with Tiwari recently to find out more.



Style: What spurred the idea to create an official city golf course?

Tiwari: About two years ago we were approached by Richmond First Tee, which is a national program to promote golf to youth and young adults who wouldn't otherwise have access to golf. We've been working with them for some time. We formed this partnership. They have been doing some fund-raising. And then the City Council appropriated $700,000. Clearly the issue is, if you live in the city of Richmond and you are not part of a private golf course, then you have no golf course available in the city of Richmond.



How much will the golf course cost?

We're building the project in phases. The first phase will cost $1.2 million, which will include a three-hole par 3 golf course. In addition, there will be a three-hole tot course which is actually a teaching facility for youngsters. Then, of course, it will have a renovated driving range that will remain open year-round. It will have a clubhouse, a practice area, a putting area and, of course, whatever parking is needed. We're hoping there are only two phases. Together it will be a nine-hole course.



When will the course open?

The [renovated] driving range is expected to be completed late fall of 2002. The full phase one will be completed and opened in spring 2003.



What is covering the cost of construction?

The city's providing $700,000 to cover construction. The National First Tee organization will do fund-raising within the Richmond area for their part of it. They're going to raise half a million dollars, plus whatever is needed for operation and maintenance of the facility.



How much did the city put aside in its budget this year for the golf program?

We have $50,000 budgeted for the citywide golf program and we serve approximately 400 children under the program. That includes a program called "Hook a kid on golf." That's like a structured league. And then we have golf camps. That's also instructional.



Why does the city of Richmond need an official municipal golf course?

The objective is to develop a public golf course that is close to home for the citizens of the city of Richmond. The second purpose is to have a public place where we can offer the opportunity to learn the game of golf for youngsters in the city who otherwise will not have the opportunity to learn the game of golf. And last but not least, we are trying to showcase Richmond. When we have people coming to Richmond for business purposes or conventions, we'll have an attractive public facility that is convenient and accessible. A lot of folks like to say, "Hey, where can we play golf?" This is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with the business community.



One of the stated objectives of the course is to teach children basic golf skills and provide affordable golf facilities for youth. How will this course reach out to children?

We need to provide opportunities for our youngsters to be successful. We have swimming pools and basketball courts … the only thing we are lacking is a golf course. Who knows? Maybe the next Tiger Woods will come from our golf course. S



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