The Hiller Instinct: Teed Off
"Fore!... I guess I should have said two..."
Two's the right number here. The state owns one golf course in Canton and one in Weston. Last year, the state made $249,000 in profits on Weston's Leo J. Martin and $109,000 on Ponkapoag in Canton.
Daniel P. McLaughlin, Real Estate Developer
"There are miniature golf courses that have netted more in a year than Ponkapoag netted last year."
Dan McLaughlin owns a golf course at the Hopkinton Country Club, which used to be a public course, Saddle Hill, before he and a partner bought it. So McLaughlin knows what he's talking about when he estimates what Ponkapoag's 700 acre layout would be worth if the state sold it…
Daniel P. McLaughlin
"It could be one of the premier 36 hole courses in the country... And I think that Ponkapoag could have a value in the $20 million range."
And what about Leo J. Martin, a course located on prime real estate in Weston, the state's wealthiest town, where most homes sell for more than a million dollars.
Daniel P. McLaughlin
"It's only 65 acres, it could never be a good golf course, and I think a condominium developer would pay an awful lot of money for Leo Martin. I think they'd pay somewhere in the $20-30 million range for that property."
Add it up, that's 40 to 50 million dollars the state could make by selling its golf courses.
Governor Mitt Romney (R) Massachusetts
"I'm all ears when it comes to finding ways to raise additional revenue."
The governor is facing a $3 billion budget deficit and calling the state's fiscal crisis the worst since the great depression. So he'd get out of the golf course business…
Governor Mitt Romney
"I don't believe golfing is a core service of state government."
House Speaker Tom Finneran (D) Boston
"No, I don't think any reasonable person would say it's an essential or a core service."
The speaker agrees. How can the state cut health care and education, while maintaining golf courses…
House Speaker Tom Finneran
"It's a no brainer to say that it's imperative that we look at every option including an out right sale and good riddance to the golf courses."
Romney's new budget will call for increasing fees, but compared to what they'd sell for, that's just chump change. Sometimes in politics the smartest thing to do is stay the course, but this time it's to sell the course.