Since Van Cortlandt Golf Course in New York City became the first public course in the U.S. in 1895, public course professionals and their staffs have worked to make this "game of a lifetime" available to the masses, not just the country-club set.
When the U.S. Open was played at a public venue at Beth Page Black on Long Island in 2002, and again last year, there was celebration and resurgence of often overlooked municipal tracks throughout the golf world. Golf journals abound with annual top-10, top-50, top-100 lists of public courses.
Golfers who rise from the public-course ranks (Kentucky's Jodie Mudd was one of them in the 1990s) to professional success are given special accolades by the game's whispering commentators.
And the legendary Francis Ouimet, who burst from the public-course caddy ranks to take down the top American and British pros at the 1913 U.S. Open, was the subject of the feel-good movie, The Greatest Game Ever Played, some 92 years later.
Public golf has a special and important place in the storied game. And everyone who uses and enjoys Lexington's public courses can be thankful this week that the Urban County Council chose not to let a small group of self-interested investors undermine the city's fine public golf program by putting their unrealized business plans ahead of the game's timeless traditions, and ahead of the public interest.