Can Ginn bring pro golf to Minturn?
Vail, CO Colorado
MINTURN ” Alice Plain thinks professional golfers might play tournaments at the Ginn Development Co.’s proposed golf course and that would be good for the Vail Valley.
“The exposure from having an LPGA would be great,” Plain said, referring to the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
Colorado courses have played host to few men’s or women’s professional tour events, but Ginn’s proposed 18-hole golf course might be the exception, said Plain, director of the Vail Golf Club.
The golf course would be designed to hold a professional tournament, but Ginn may or may not hold them, Ginn officials say. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disapproves of Ginn’s golf course plan, a federal official said.
Scooter Slaughter, a pro at the Eagle Ranch golf course, thinks that professional golfers would avoid playing tournaments at the Ginn’s golf course ” even though the course would be designed to accommodate them.
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“I think it’s possible, but it’s not sought after,” Slaughter said about professional tournaments in the valley.
Professional golfers refuse to play events in Colorado due to the high altitude that changes the way they swing the club, said Jared Bickling, assistant golf professional for Cotton Ranch Club.
Bickling points out that this year, Colorado lost the International, a professional tournament held for 21 years in Castle Pines.
An Eagle County golf course probably could not hold a professional men’s tournament though maybe a women’s tournament, Plain said.
If anybody could do it, Ginn could because it might sponsor such a tournament. Other Eagle County golf courses would find it more difficult to foot the bill, she said.
A professional tournament would help show that the Vail Valley has good golf courses, like the Jerry Ford Invitational golf tournament did, she said.
Professional golfers and celebrities such Jack Nicklaus, Clint Eastwood, Bob Hope, Yogi Berra, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Tip O’Neill and Bobby Knight played in the event, held 25 times.
Still, Plain acknowledged that organizing a professional tournament in the Vail Valley would be difficult.
“It would take a lot to market that ” but that’s not to say it’s impossible,” she said.
Ginn has not determined whether it would hold professional golf tournaments at the proposed golf course south of Minturn, said Ryan Julison, spokesman for Ginn.
Ginn has not held men’s Professional Golf Association tournaments at its resorts but has held Ladies Professional Golf Association tournaments, he said.
“We like to design our courses with the potential of hosting events like that,” Julison said.
Ginn’s resort business revolves around golf, Julison said, and Ginn is well-connected in the professional golf world. The company sponsors a number of professional golfers, including Annika Sorenstam, Kristie Kerr and Lee Janzen, Julison said.
The Ginn Championship drew a crowd of 51,000 during a week in March and April at Ginn’s Hammock Beach Resort golf course in Palm Coast, Fla., Julison said.
Ginn wants to build its tournament course around a number of wetlands south of Minturn. Out of 50 acres of wetlands both on Battle Mountain and around the Bolts Lake area, the development would affect two acres, Ginn representatives have said.
Ginn would avoid the wetlands where possible and would lessen harm to wetlands where it could not avoid harming them, said Stephanie Larsen for Environmental Resources Management at a Minturn Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday.
To lessen harm, Ginn would build elevated cart paths over wetlands, she said.
Ginn also would clean wetlands contaminated by metals and the course’s design would allow elk to migrate, she said.
But the Environmental Protection Agency project manager Mike Holmes says Ginn’s current plan is “inadequate.”
The federal agency disagreed with the number of acres that the course would harm, Holmes said.
The proposed project fails to comply with a section in the Clean Water Act, according to a November 2006 letter someone anonymously sent to the Vail Daily. Holmes described the letter as an “internal document,” he said.
“We want a better demonstration that they can avoid wetlands impacts,” Holmes said.
Holmes did not know whether the Ginn’s insistence on a high-caliber course caused the disagreement, because the agency had not looked into that yet, he said.
Ginn will submit a new plan soon, Holmes said.
“Everything’s still in the state of flux and they’re doing everything they can,” Holmes said.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.