Thursday, June 19, 2008

ICC may pave over golf area

Cross Creek golf course could lose signature hole at toll road

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The par 4, 450-yard 14th hole at Beltsville’s Cross Creek Golf Club already received regional acclaim as the ‘‘Lexus Toughest Hole in Golf” Competition for the metro area in 2007.

But it might become even more difficult for golfers if they have to dodge bulldozers in the fairway.

Cross Creek residents and the Maryland State Highway Administration are working on ways to salvage the course’s signature hole, which currently sits on the right of way for the Inter-County Connector.

The Cross Creek Golf Club is hosting a meeting for Cross Creek residents at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the golf course, and an SHA representative will be on hand to answer questions.

‘‘Everyone knew about the ICC, and a lot of people knew where it was going,” Cross Creek Golf Club general manager Brian Boltz said. ‘‘This meeting came about because of the golf course issue. I think [residents] will ask a lot of questions about the interchanges and noise as well.”

The golf course’s original owner and developer, Landscapes Unlimited, built part of the course on the right-of-way for the final stretch of the ICC in 2002.

The ICC is an expressway that will run from Gaithersburg to Laurel. Construction in Montgomery County has already started and construction on the Beltsville stretch is slated to begin in 2009.

The course has since been bought by private owner In Jong.

‘‘The way I understand it is that the 14th hole was surveyed incorrectly,” Boltz said.

Landscapes Unlimited subsequently built the hole directly on state-owned land, designated for the ICC.

Referred to as the ‘‘Quarry Hole,” the 14th features an increasingly narrowing fairway as it gets closer to the pin.

SHA spokesperson Valerie Edgar said ICC engineers are looking for ways to minimize the effect the highway will have on the hole, but they will not change the location of the highway.

‘‘At this point, we’re optimistic that we can work this out, but they have not sat down and done the engineering designs,” she said. ‘‘We’ll obviously be working with them. This particular section is not slated to be under construction until next year.”

Edgar said keeping the lines of communication with the Cross Creek community open is the most important part to satisfying everyone involved.

‘‘I think the fact that we [are going to] come out and meet with them says a lot,” she said. ‘‘We’re obviously communicating with the community, but it’s much more about the engineers and the golf course owners.”

She said this is a new issue for the SHA, as it only recently became aware that part of the golf course was on state-owned land.

Beltsville resident and Cross Creek golfer Paul Zurkowski said that, aside from golfers, the ICC will impact residents of homes overlooking the 13th and 14th holes.

‘‘The houses behind and above the tee box will be within 100 yards of the highway,” he said. ‘‘One family told me they were required to pay $10,000 extra for the view [of the golf course] they were getting.”

Anthony Cade, president of the Cross Creek Homeowners Association is concerned about the affect the ICC will have on the property values in the community.

‘‘Any encroachment upon the golf course would be perceived as a negative,” he said. ‘‘Even though the golf course is separate from the Cross Creek home community itself, anything that would adversely affect the golf course would adversely affect the property values.”

Zurkowski also said houses behind a hill to the right of the 14th fairway would be affected by the noise of the highway.

Boltz said the club is considering three options for redesigning the hole — which actually sits across the Montgomery County border.

He would not go into detail about any of the options until SHA engineers have seen them, other than to say that one of them would keep the hole as a par 4.

Edgar said while the Quarry Hole is on the SHA’s radar, safety has to be the top priority.

‘‘You don’t want golf balls flying on the highway,” she said. ‘‘We’re also going to be working with them to come up with some options for protecting a hiker⁄biker trail that goes in there.”

Boltz also said that after the highway is completed there might be an opportunity for Jong to buy some of the unused land to add on to the course.

Email Jonah Schuman at jschuman@gazette.net.