Plans for Gunpowder GC Ignite Explosion Reactions by Senior Members

An ambitious plan that could cost up to $12 million to convert Gunpowder Golf Club into an upscale track within a new residential community has raised the ire of some members and piqued the attention of state legislators. The parties are concerned that the 175 senior members of Gunpowder’s 350-member club won’t be able to afford golf at their favorite course when it reopens in 2004.

Located at 14300 Old Gunpowder Road in Laurel, Maryland, the course is currently played for as little as $11 a round, with $14 fees on weekends. Besides being affordable, the flattish, straightforward track is easy to get around. All that would change if Artery Development Company and The Ryland Group proceed with their plans, which include converting Gunpowder Golf Club into a championship-caliber track with green fees to match. Ault, Clark and Associates has been hired to do the design.

The companies bought the property from Maryland resident Caleb Gould on a promise that a golf course community would be built. The companies plan to build a public-owned, daily-fee facility as part of a 465-acre residential community. The combined properties, of which Gunpowder is a part and which will be renamed Fairland/Gunpowder Golf Course Community, span both Prince George and Montgomery counties and involve a maze of permits before it comes to fruition. In addition to the course, the developers want to build 516 single- and multi-family residences as part of their project.

The course would still be owned by the Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission. Because the course would still be publicly owned, a handful of state legislators entered the fray in support of the seniors. The lawmakers also question how private developers can alter the fee structure of the popular golf course. In response to the legislator’s concern about maintaining "affordable golfing opportunities," Artery and The Ryland Group said they’ll consider reduced fees for senior members when the course reopens.

In addition, the parks commission said it would consider reducing green fees at other commission-owned courses while Gunpowder is being rebuilt. As it stands in early October 2001, further public hearings are scheduled before Gunpowder’s redevelopment plans – and its ulitmate play rates – become final. Cybergolf guesses that Gunpowder’s strong senior golfer contingent, with backing from state officials, will enjoy bargain rates at a handy championship track when it opens for play in spring 2004.