Not sold about equestrian center

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2005

I love to play golf, and though I don’t get to play as often as I like, I try to get out every chance I can.

It can be an expensive pastime. Shoes are $40 to $140; irons can cost $200 to $1,200; you can pay up to $600 for a single wood; a putter is $100. Green fees are $20 to $50 locally for 18 holes; a membership in a club can run $300 a month or more; a cart can be $10 to $20; golf bags start at about $100; balls even cost up to $4 apiece.

You can get in over your head real fast.

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But I knew all that going in. I could easily pursue walking, jogging, bowling or any number of activities that are far less expensive, but I choose to golf – my kids eat way too much anyway.

Golf is not unlike the situation faced by equestrians. They are in an expensive racket as well-buying a horse, boarding it, feeding it, grooming it, medical care, etc. It must run into tons of money. It’s not called &uot;the sport of kings&uot; for nothing

As such, the proposal for the city to build an elaborate equestrian center or whatever it’s called so that these &uot;kings&uot; can show their horses, troubles me a bit.

While I’m sure there’s tourism potential to be had-along with increasing the traffic and danger on Nansemond Parkway-I wonder if this is how taxpayer dollars should be spent.

The city has been inundated in recent days with pleas from these &uot;kings&uot; for the city to move forward on the equestrian center, and many of them have been forwarded to us for publication.

I can’t help but be skeptical of it. I believe public money should be put into things like better police pay, roads and education-the things governments are supposed to fund-things that benefit all of us and the least affluent among us.

An equestrian center doesn’t quite measure up. I realize that with the Hilton and Sleepy Hole Golf Course, our city has set a precedent of pouring public resources into projects that benefit the most affluent among us, but that doesn’t make it right.

If Suffolk is such a wonderful location for an equestrian facility, the kings should persuade a private interest to invest in it.

When I took golf back up last year after a 10-year or so hiatus, I was hit hard by sticker shock. So I looked for the best deals I could. I found a sale on Ram FX irons – $45 for an entire set. I found a used Big Bertha driver for $50, and so on.

Of course, I guess I could have just approached city council and said, &uot;I’ve invested in a golf membership and a bag, and I’d like the city to fund graphite-shafted Callaway Irons ($1,200) and a Taylor Made R7 driver ($600).

I wonder how that would go over?

Shoot, they’d probably go for it.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the

News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611,

or at