ATLANTA -- Lars Wust grabs a kid-size golf club and explains, "First you take the club and you swing it and you try to get it in the hole!" With cheers and jumps, the little boy pushes the ball around the putting green at the Candler Park Golf Course. He's no Tiger Woods.
But he has the enthusiasm. "I got it in the hole!" he screams with a jump. He has another advantage: "It's right over there."
His parents are building a house just across the street from the Candler Park Golf Course. "It's always been my dream to live there. This green space has been a part of my life for 20 years, ever since I moved to Atlanta," his mom, Tate said.
She says this course is the heart of Candler Park. Hers dropped at an October neighborhood meeting when the City's Department of Parks and Recreation announced it was reviewing all city golf courses. The results of that evaluation could mean closing the course, turning it into a driving range, or leaving it as a nine hole course. It's up for discussion because the Candler Park Golf Course lost $70,000 last year.
Michael Short and his dog Katie are not exactly golfers, but they are regulars here. He's one of about 50 members. He started Friends of the Candler Park Golf Course. He launched efforts to save it and make it profitable. "We're trying to get them to look at the city's golf courses, not as separate elements, but from a big picture. Can this work so it's a net profit and it's good for the game?"
Golfing at Candler Park is different. It's a course where you're just as likely to see a bird watcher as a golfer, where the beavers built their own water trap, and the ground keepers operate at less than half the cost per acre as private courses. It's a come-as-you-are, no collared shirts required kind of course. Short says it works.
"This really is something unique and special here," he said.
The course is on par to make a profit this year. It's due, in part, to the great weather. Right now greens fees are $10 for 9 holes during the week and $13 on the weekends. Short says if they raise it just by a few dollars, they could improve the greens and attract more golfers. That would require approval by the city council. And he says they still don't know what city hall plans to do with the course.
A spokesman with the mayor's office told 11Alive News the report isn't done yet, so no decisions have been made.