Soldiers Field Golf Course, just south of downtown Rochester, is the city’s oldest course.

Post Bulletin File Photo

It’s not often that I read a newspaper article and think, “Whoa, that was an insult.”

Rochester’s Soldiers Field golf course has recently made local headlines. There have been discussions related to an assessment by the National Golf Foundation (NGF) report and the park’s 2016 master plan. A key question is the future of this golf course.

Throughout my career, whenever I’ve encountered terminologies like blueprints, assessment, reassessment, revision, or reengineering, it’s never been good for the status quo.

Part of a sentence from the NGF report that I laughed at was: “The shorter 18-hole golf course offers a simple design with fewer challenges that appeals to less skilled and less serious golfers, many of whom are seniors.”

Yes, I look like all these about, especially, the less qualified ones.

Golf courses have been a great place to hang out during the global ‘crapdemic’. A round of golf involves being outdoors, sunshine, exercise, no mask, hitting new golf balls into bodies of water, occasional profanity and an “after action” review of party cold beer. I try not to cry into my beer.

I play four or five times every summer at Soldiers Field Memorial Golf Course. This is not a column insisting that the golf course be kept open or left exactly as it is. I will not carry signs with the words “Make Golf, Not War” or “Power to the Less-Skilled Golfers”.

These are tough decisions. Results will be based on maintenance costs, budgets, revenues, staffing, land use and a vision for the future of the entire Soldiers Field park. Decisions will take time to unfold.

Golf courses are not high on the list of many citizens. I understand. Life is changing, priorities are shifting and land use is transforming.

Development of this course began in 1925. According to a Post-Bulletin article, the NGF report indicated that the course’s vital systems had exceeded their expected lifespan. The course has a limited property size. It is short, in terms of distance, and it is the oldest municipal course in Rochester.

Therein lies the absolute beauty of this golf course. It is still in good condition, within walking distance for many, but playing it requires precision. When I play the course, I like the view of the city skyline as I go down certain fairways. The course is located right in the center of our community.

You can feel the history of this traditional golf course with its mature trees, manageable layout, and proximity to the remarkable Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial and even the pool, track, and ball fields.

I have never landed a golf ball in the pool, but I have hit a ball on Broadway. I have golfed with patients outside of the Mayo Clinic who need golf therapy for a few hours. Golf is not a good wasted walk, but a path of recreation and occasional distress.

Heck, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Soldiers Field – now that’s a big story.

Dave Linbo, who has been a member of a town golf course for over 30 years and who plays a lot of golf at Soldiers Field, told me that as you get older, the social aspect of golf is important, in addition to have fun.

“Soldiers Field Golf Course is a diamond in the rough,” he said.

I agree, it’s dated, but it sparkles in the heart of the city.

This is precisely the type of golf course that I hope our community can hold on to. Simple design, less challenge for all those less skilled and less serious golfers.

For the most part, many of us senior golfers don’t even consider this less qualified term an insult. We already know.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at

[email protected]

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