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HEISER: For York County golfers, closing of Regents' Glen is sad day

STEVE HEISER
YorkDispatch


For golfers, watching a course close is like losing an old friend.

Unfortunately, for players in the York-Adams region, a few old friends are now just fading memories.

Just in the past decade, Copper Beech Golf Club, formerly known as Red Lion Country Club, and Hawk Lake Golf Club, formerly known as Yorktowne Golf Club, have closed in York County, as has Gettysburg Country Club in Adams County.

Meanwhile, the rumor mill has worked overtime during the past few years that some other regional clubs could follow suit.

Now, regrettably, one of those rumors has apparently come true.

Regents' Glen Country Club has shut down, and it's not clear when — or if — it will reopen. A sign on a door at the York-area facility on Monday warned that the club was closed until further notice.

The closing comes as no surprise. The course has been plagued by well-publicized financial woes recently. Employees said they weren't being paid on time, if at all, and the club experienced some serious tax issues.

Still, for the local golf community, this is a truly sad day.

It's also, unhappily, a sign of the times.

It's no secret that the golf industry, both locally and nationally, is struggling mightily.

Courses are closing at an alarming rate.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a prime example. The Grand Strand, as the area is known, has long billed itself as America's golf mecca. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Yorkers annually make golf vacation trips there. In the last 10 years, however, the Grand Strand has seen dozens of its courses shut down.

Golf's heyday in the late 1990s, when Tiger-mania was at its zenith and courses were sprouting like flowers in the spring, seems like ancient history.

Regents' Glen, which was built in the middle of that boom in 1998, is the latest victim. The private course was originally built as part of a broader retirement community, but the development never lived up to the grand plans of its ownership.

Hopefully, however, the York County course will find new life, and soon. The Arthur Hills layout is too good a track to simply sit dormant, or, heaven forbid, become another housing development or shopping center.

York County desperately needs all the open spaces it can get.

From a selfish point of view, it would be great if Regents' Glen became an open-access public golf facility. There are lots of hackers here in York County and beyond who would like a crack at the course.

The public got an up-close look at Regents' Glen when it played host to a Futures Tour event for a few years about a decade ago. The course is not overly long, stretching just more than 6,300 yards from the back tees. (Remember, it was originally built as part of a retirement community). But it was a perfect course for the women's minor league tour.

Back then, the Futures players couldn't stop raving about the Hills' layout and the course's near-pristine condition. Yes, it's relatively short, but it provides plenty of challenges, especially when the rough is high. There's also an exceptional 8-acre practice area.

If the course isn't opened up to the public, however, maybe a way can be found to keep it a private country club.

Keeping it a golf course, in any form, would be better than seeing it overgrown and unused, or even worse, plowed under.

After all, York County golfers don't need to see another old friend fade into memory.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.