If you read Genuine Kentucky regularly, you know what a huge fan I am the Kentucky State Parks. Even if this is your first time on Genuine Kentucky, you know now, right? I’d honestly just as soon spend a day, evening, or weekend at a Kentucky State Resort Park as anyplace in the world (aside from home sweet home). So if I ever say anything remotely critical of any of the state parks, know that it is with love and respect. After all, we all love our country, but we’ll still voice our opinions if we disagree with something.
Now that the “I’ve got nothing but love for them” disclaimer is taken care of, I’ll give you a little disappointing news along with my commentary (for what that’s ever worth!).
The Kentucky State Park System recently closed the golf courses at two of the State Resort Parks: Kenlake and Rough River. First of all, know that the decision to close these parks wasn’t made by the individual parks, themselves. The decision was out of their hands.
Second of all, there’s no doubt in my mind that the closings weren’t something the State Park System took lightly. I’m certain the closings were the results of financial issues. We’re all pinching pennies and tightening our belts these days.
I’d be the last person to EVER try to tell anyone else how to do their job. I’d even be less likely to give financial advice! My husband could tell you how outrageous that’d be. I don’t have a financial savvy bone in my body. I can spend money like it’s my job, but save it or budget it?
You’re kidding, right?
I’d simply like to say, as I’m dishing this news out, that this is really disappointing. I’m actually even more disappointed by the Rough River news than the Kenlake. Why? Several reasons.
- In the Kenlake State Resort Park area, there are several other golf courses available. Yes, the one at Kenlake was beautiful and the man who ran the golf course was one of the friendliest people we’ve ever encountered at any of the parks. However, Lake Barkley State Resort Park is minutes away and has a very popular golf course. Kentucky Dam Village, for that matter, is also fairly close. So there are actually other Kentucky State Resort Park options when it comes to golf in the area. The closing of Kenlake’s golf course (as disappointing as it is) could possibly mean more golfers on these other Kentucky State Park golf courses.
- The Rough River Dam State Resort Park had a beautiful Par-3 golf course. It was the only Par-3 golf course in the system. A course such as this one is IDEAL for golfing with children, IDEAL for teaching others how to golf, IDEAL for older golfers who want to enjoy the game without driving themselves nuts, IDEAL for individuals who are trying to “pick” the game back up and dust off the cobwebs, etc. This golf course had a “family friendly” feel to it that made it extra special.
When we drove onto the Rough River Dam State Park’s property Saturday evening, our jaws dropped when we saw what was once a gorgeous, perfectly manicured golf course. It was obvious, right off the bat, that something was rotten in Denmark. It looked like a scene from one of those zombie movies when the camera scans across abandoned cities and ghost towns! Our jaws dropped and we knew what must have happened.
I thought immediately of the last time we were on the course. A couple was golfing with their young son, teaching him the game and having an absolutely beautiful time. I thought of the other groups of older men and women who were still playing the game they loved. I thought of a husband and wife as they tried to “take the game back up,” having fun and teasing one another.
I remembered just how gorgeous the views of Rough River Dam and the lake were from the golf course. Amid all the images springing to mind, I just thought, “Well. This sucks.”
The golf course was always the first thing you’d see when you pulled into the beautiful park and, boy, did it make a great first impression!
Again, let me say that I GET it. All agencies, businesses, and organizations have to operate within budgets just like the rest of us. It’s a sickening part of life, but sometimes those “ends” just will not meet.
The thing that I hate the most about situations like this is the fact that the wrong people end up on the short end. It’s kind of like when a college football coach violates an NCAA rule. The coach is fired – which makes perfect sense – but then the entire program gets slapped on the hand. Punishments come down as though they’re from God, himself, banning the program from post-season play, taking away “wins,” etc. The innocent, loyal fans and players (present and future) are punished, in effect, for something they had nothing to do with.
The wrong people end up on the short end.
The faces who sprang to mind when I saw the “ghost course” now find themselves on the short end and the same phrase comes to mind now as then, “Well. This sucks.”
I have a real distaste for negativity, so I’ll try to turn things around before I wrap this up. I just refuse to end on a negative note and “This sucks” is pretty negative! So, allow me to say that there are still a gazillion and one things to do at Rough River and Kenlake. After all, let’s face it, the lakes (Rough River Lake and Kentucky Lake) are the big attractions at these parks. Nothing compares to spending a day on the lake fishing, boating, water-skiing, or any other water activities that bring a smile to your face.
There’s also hiking, camping, picnicking, photography, and more. In the case of Rough River, there’s even an adorable miniature golf course. These parks are always cooking up extra special events and activities for people of all ages to enjoy and each park has wonderful people on staff.
I hope you’ll visit these parks as well as the other Kentucky State Parks as often as possible. If these closings don’t serve as reminders of the importance of enjoying and supporting our parks, nothing will.