LAKEWOOD, Wash. – The lifespan of a Pierce County golf course is nearing its end.
After nearly half a century the Fort Steilacoom golf course is about to close forever. It’s just the latest in a long series of public golf courses that have shut down in our region in just the past few years.
“You don’t hit it straight here, you’re in big trouble,” said golfer Bill Watson. “I was in trouble all day.”
It’s a pastime that for this golf course is past its prime.
“It’s a drivable course, nice greens,” said golfer James Edwards.
The nine holes at Fort Steilacoom’s golf course will close by the end of September. After 47 years, the county park is about to host its last tee time in a matter of weeks.
In recent years, park officials claim 16,000 golfers teed up along these links but those numbers are slowly fading.
"Five or six years ago it was closer to the 20,000 mark,” said Pierce County Parks and Recreation Director Roxanne Miles. “It becomes a place when you’re budgeting, you’re trying to predict where it’s going and it’s just staying with that trend.”
The county park operating on state parks land is ending its lease and many golfers hope the fairways don’t go to the dogs.
Fort Steilacoom is just the latest in a long string of municipal golf courses to shut down. From Bothell, Mountlake Terrace and Woodinville, publicly opened or operated golf courses are fading into history.
“It’s a time where there is more supply than demand,” said Miles.
Pierce County says it will continue to manage Lake Spanaway and Chambers Bay golf courses where 18 holes will challenge golfers.
Plus, zoning requirements at Fort Steilacoom will keep the land as open space and will restrict what kinds of development will be allowed.
“As they’re eliminating the courses one by one, the cost of where you have to go is going up,” said Watson.
“It’s pretty clear public golf has plateaued as far as numbers,” said golfer Bill Mullins.
This public facility is not only a cheaper alternative than other nearby courses, losing this slice of Pierce County history is a tough loss for some.
“Still not sure what we’re going to do yet, where we’re going to go yet,” said Edwards.
Golfers have until September 24 to get in one last round at Fort Steilacoom before it closes for good.