Drive to the tee: Councilman is right to focus on Schenley course

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It's not St. Andrews or Pebble Beach, but the city of Pittsburgh's only golf course has wonderful views and its own charms. What is doesn't have is enough golfers to appreciate those charms.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor wants to do something about that. He is the ideal person for the job not only because he is an avid golfer but also because the course is named for his late father, Pittsburgh's popular mayor who died in 2006. The official name is the Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park.

Better utilization of the course is not just about attracting more Pittsburghers and suburbanites to take up a healthy pastime. For a $1 year, the city leases the course to First Tee of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit with the mission of giving young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop positive character attributes through golf.

But First Tee needs financial support from the city, an annual subsidy of about $160,000. In a city that still has financial problems, Mr. O'Connor hopes that if the course is better used First Tee won't have to rely so much on government support.

Located on 51 acres in Oakland, the course is short, about half the size of many courses. Inconveniently, it has no driving range and carts are not allowed. If the course is refigured, perhaps reducing it from 18 holes to nine, both might be accommodated.

While First Tee has ramped up marketing, more obviously has to be done. Mr. O'Connor should be allowed to play through with his ideas in co-operation with First Tee. The course is one of the crown jewels of the city but it needs some polishing.

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