Getting in a game of golf may be a whole lot more difficult in New York. Downstate Democrat Senator David Carlucci is proposing legislation that would allow for re-assessing golf courses at the highest and best use, rather than its current use. Senator Joe Griffo (R) 47th Senate District explains why the proposed legislation could put many upstate golf courses out of business.
"It’s not just one level of government, its every taxing jurisdiction, so even though the County may decide that this isn’t a wise move, a town or a village could at some point say: we have a fiscal problem, we’re going to go back and now re-evaluate and re-assess the golf course because that can generate a lot more income."
If this legislation were to pass, it could put many golf courses like Twin Ponds in the hole. David Girmonde is the Owner of Twin Ponds Golf & Country Club.
"Golf in New York State would change drastically, or we’d go out of business. The tax implications from 150 acres would just be so overwhelming. The green fees would have to go to 6, 7, $800 a round, which you’re just not going to get here."
The thought alone has New Hartford Golfer Anthony Obeid concerned.
"Alright, so I’m going to enjoy my last round, and then ah… (laughs) I guess maybe do it once a year or something. Yeah, that’s tough."
West Winfield Golfer Bob Gray said golf wouldn't be the only business affected.
"It would probably force me to either play someplace else, or to play less, and if I play less then I don’t buy the beverage inside and I don’t have the sandwich, and I don’t buy/pay for fuel coming back and forth, so it affects many things. It just doesn’t affect this golf course in particular, but it affects everything that I do."
The proposed legislation may be more of a political tactic than a fiscal one. On the surface it might seem like a way to generate more tax revenues, but David Girmonde, Owner of Twin Ponds Golf & Country Club, is calling it a political move.
"My understanding is that it’s a Senator from downstate, a Democrat who is looking to go after Donald Trump’s golf course. So by proposing this, he’d have to propose it to all golf courses, he can’t just single one out."
Senator Griffo beleives there is political motivation behind many new bills.
"I think some of that is true right now. If you look downstate at some of these private facilities, and now with one party control here, one region domination, they’re trying to make some statements, and I think it’s unfortunate."
Unfortunate may be an understatement. Eugene Carcone is the Owner of Stonebridge Golf Course. He says many upstate golf courses are already struggling, and could be forced to close.
"All of them are in a lot of trouble. There’s going to be closing, after closing, after closing. This tax would just make that accelerate beyond proportion."
New Hartford Golfer Anthony Obeid would be willing to pay more for a round of golf, but don’t believe politics should be the motivation for this kind of legislation.
"The game of golf transcends the boundaries. I think people on either side of the isle are going to be upset about something like this, so at the end of the day I think it’s something that’s interesting to consider. It’d definitely be another revenue stream if they want to then take away taxes from somewhere else so that we can then balance it out."
This bill may have a ways to go before becoming law, but the legislation has already passed one committee in the Assembly.