With Franklin Park’s White Stadium and William J. Devine Golf Course potentially hosting Olympic events in 2024—and possibly shuttered to local users for a year or more—the Gazette set out to learn some of the Devine course’s history.
The proposed plans for those facilities include hosting various events in a renovated stadium, and temporarily turning the golf course into a cross-country horse-race course.
A similar plan, executed for London’s 2012 games in Greenwich Park, saw the park closed for longer than anticipated—some areas were closed to local access for over a year—though the park as a whole came out of the ordeal in better condition than it started, its Friends group head previously told the Gazette.
The Devine Golf Course was the first public golf course in Massachusetts and the second in the nation, after Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx in New York City, City Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson Ryan Woods told the Gazette last week.
The course was created in 1896 as a four-hole course, as the game picked up popularity in Scotland and the rest of the UK, he said.
“People needed a place to golf. There were only private clubs before,” he said.
Eventually the course expanded to nine holes, then the full 18-hole course we know today, designed by Donald Ross, considered the “Michelangelo of Golf” for his naturalistic courses, according to the World Golf Hall of Fame website.
According to Woods, about 34,000 rounds of golf are played on the Devine course every year. Each round can be a single golfer or go up to a foursome, with occasional fivesomes for special championships.
Of those players, 79.2 percent are Boston residents, Woods said, who pay $39 per person per round.
Woods noted that even by public course standards, that’s very cheap.
“Most public courses are in the $100-and-over range” per person per round, he said. “And private clubs can start their membership at $25,000 per year.”
Considering that the Devine course is bordered by Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, communities largely composed of people of color, the course keeps golf accessible to those who would otherwise never be able to afford a game.
Operated and maintained by the City itself, the Devine course employs Professional Gold Association (PGA) members at the clubhouse.
More information is available at cityofbostongolf.com.