Eglin's courses could return to public status if the base and the objecting courses can come to an agreement meeting an Air Force requirement that the arrangement is "mutually beneficial to the installation and community golf entities," according to a news release from Eglin.
EGLIN AFB — The base's golf courses will become private Saturday after two other area courses objected to its continued operation as a public course.
The two courses' objections are based on a number of concerns, including "a decrease in rounds played at their facilities, which they attributed to Eglin Golf Course's public play status," according to Maj. Jennifer Mack, commander of Eglin Air Force Base's 96th Force Support Squadron.
However, Eglin's courses could return to public status if the base and the objecting courses can come to an agreement meeting an Air Force requirement that the arrangement is "mutually beneficial to the installation and community golf entities," according to a news release from Eglin.
The objections to Eglin continuing to operate as a public course were filed by two of the three courses the base is required to consult periodically regarding its courses' operation. Those courses are the municipal course in Fort Walton Beach and the courses at Bluewater Bay and Rocky Bayou Country Club.
A base spokeswoman would not say which two courses filed objections about Eglin's courses. She said the base did not want to jeopardize discussions with the courses with regard to Eglin regaining its public status. Even if just one of the courses had objected to Eglin's courses remaining public, the base would have been required to move to private status, the spokeswoman said.
Calls to all three of the courses with a voice in the status of the Eglin golf course were not immediately returned Friday.
"We are actively engaging with the courses to garner feedback," Mack said in an email responding to questions about the Eglin courses' transition to private status.
Under the new status, the public can still play on the courses, but must be accompanied by an authorized patron, according to the news release. Authorized patrons include active duty, reserve and retired military members, military dependents, Department of Defense civilians and contractors, and certain other people who meet Air Force eligibility requirements.
Golf courses on Air Force bases serve primarily as morale, welfare and recreation activities for Air Force members and their families. They can, however, be offered for public use with concurrence "from local golf facilities within a 10-mile radius or from local government/community leaders whose authority encompasses golf facilities within a 10-mile radius of the installation," Mack said in the email.
The Air Force must obtain that local concurrence every two years, and Eglin previously had approval from the affected courses, Mack noted. As a result of the objections, the Eglin courses' new private status "will remain in effect until further notice," Mack said.
According to Mack, the golf courses want to return to public status.
"Our goal at Eglin Golf Course is to continue public play in a manner that continues to build positive relationships wth similar local businesses," Mack wrote. " ... (F)or example, in the past Eglin Golf Course and local courses have hosted 'Home-and-Home' golf tournaments, a practice that showcases all the participating courses’ attributes. We’d like to continue to build these types of events in partnership with the community."
Mack also noted in her email that the course's switch to private status will negatively affect its relationship with local schools, for which Eglin has provided acccess to its course for golf programs.
Eglin's greens fees range from $10 for the lowest-ranking enlisted personnel to $30 for guests, and can also vary depending on the time of day, according to Mack. By comparison, Bluewater Bay offers an active-duty military rate of $30, with regular guest rates from $32 to $52, depending on the time of day. At the Fort Walton Beach municipal courses, greens fees range from $16 to $27 for non-members, depending on the time of day, for 18 holes. At Rocky Bayou Country Club, greens fees for club members are $40 for morning tee times and $32 for afternoon tee times.