Old Bridge seeks alcohol sales

December 22, 2003|GARY MOYERS

Bruce Brown says he wants his golf course to be able to better compete in what has been a tough economic climate recently.

Hank Marcussen is concerned that a bar might spring up at the entrance to his subdivision.

Both have a keen interest in a special election Tuesday in which voters in the Lexington Road precinct of Boyle County will decide whether or not to allow liquor by the drink sales at the golf course. Old Bridge Golf Course and subdivision are both included in that precinct.

The statute, KRS 242.123, was passed in spring 2000 by the Kentucky General Assembly, and allows "regulation" golf courses in dry counties containing a city that has voted to discontinue prohibition to petition for a special election that would allow the course to sell liquor by the drink.

The question on the ballot will read, "Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink at Old Bridge Golf Course in the Lexington Road precinct?"


Brown, president of Old Bridge Inc., and head golf professional at Old Bridge Golf Course, said the measure is needed to allow the club to generate more revenue for continued improvements and upkeep.

"Golf play is down nationwide because of a slow economy," he said. "In our region, the National Golf Association reported golf play was down 14 percent last year alone. We feel this would be an economic boon to our area because it would allow us to draw from a larger population in a larger area region. It would allow us to compete with clubs in surrounding counties who are allowed to sell, and as a result, draw most of the larger golf outings in the area."

According to the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, there are seven courses in the state that have taken advantage of the law - two in Madison County and one each in Callaway, Jessamine, Shelby, Union and Hardin counties.

Brown said his group circulated the required petition during the summer, after Danville's vote to allow restaurant liquor sales passed last fall.

Old Crow Winery in Boyle County took advantage of a similar law by persuading voters in the SS. Peter and Paul precinct in a December 2001 election to allow wine sales at the winery.

The law affecting golf courses allows the course to sell liquor by the drink - not package sales - anywhere on the course, including specially-constructed buildings separate from the main pro shop. And that, said Marcussen, is his problem with the initiative.

"The law is so loosely worded, there are not enough restrictions," said the 12-year resident of Old Bridge subdivision. "I am concerned that a bar could sprout up at the entrance of our subdivision that draws people who don't even play golf. They don't even have to sell food like the restaurants in Danville. It could simply be a bar."

Brown, however, said that is not the intent of the Old Bridge partners.

"Alcohol would only be sold in the grill in the clubhouse and from a beverage cart," said Brown. "The grill would only operate during golf course playing hours, not at night. We do not intend to open a Saturday night watering hole for the general public."

Marcussen said he understands that is the current feeling, and said he's talked with Brown about the initiative.

"I certainly believe Bruce when he states the intentions of the course, and there has been no acrimony on either side during this whole thing," he said. "My biggest concern is down the road. Old Bridge could come under new management, or the current management could have a change of heart. And then, because the law is so ambiguous, there could be problems with the location of the sales, and the hours of the sales."

ABC Deputy Commissioner Dan Gahafer said golf courses without 100-seat restaurants, including Old Bridge, may sell only beer on Sundays, and that operating hours would be decided by the local alcohol administrator. Since Old Bridge is in a county precinct, Gahafer said the local commissioner would be Judge-Executive Tony Wilder.

Brown agreed that both sides have been low-key during the "campaign," and said he feels Old Bridge Inc. is working for the same goals as the Old Bridge residents.

"We've been a member of the community for 14 years, with the same owners," said Brown. "We feel a responsibility to maintain our status as reputable community members, and community partners, and we intend to do nothing that would put that reputation in jeopardy. We feel this initiative would allow us to contribute even more to the local economy, and would allow us to regulate the sale of alcohol at the course."

That regulation of alcohol is key, Brown said.

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