Where in Seattle can you find in proximity, and interacting, laughing and learning, African Americans, women in hijabs, Asians, children, Latinos, families, couples, millennial bros and old white guys — all attuned to the same pursuit of outdoor pleasure and community spirit? Jefferson Park Golf Course in central Beacon Hill.
The city municipal golf course and driving range has hosted generations of Seattleites from all walks of life and launched our favorite golfing star and son of city employees — Fred Couples.
It is with much sadness to hear that our mayor is contemplating other uses for these few open green spaces, the four public golf courses: Jefferson, Jackson, West Seattle and Interbay.
Surely there are other grander missions for which I could advocate. There may be, but I invite any citizen who has not stepped foot onto the grounds of Jefferson Park, for instance, set in the center of our city, to gaze upon grounds not purposed to indulge the privileged few in an elitist sport, but rather conceived as rare fertile ground for the integration of cultures, spirits and generations. It is a sight to behold where, for affordable rates, common citizens can come and congregate and play. I invite the mayor to take a look for herself.
I grew up on the cow pasture city golf courses of New York, where for a small pittance, a child could take up the game, learn civility, and get a breath of fresh air in a city of smog, frenetic pace and concrete. Where a child could join a group of construction workers, sanitation department workers, mothers, bus drivers, and also local politicians, businessmen, women and teachers, and learn about life in other places and in other worlds. It was the real United Nations. And though we pursued a sport we had in common, the lessons learned went far beyond the game. In golf, and particularly in municipal city public golf, lessons of unity are learned. If we can play together, we can live together.
Now more than ever, we must hold onto our public meeting spaces where diverse groups can discover the humanity of others not like them in some ways, but like them in so many more. If golf is the doorway to a common experience, it is only a doorway. The value of what happens before, during and after the play cannot be measured.
Mayor Durkan, come see Jefferson Park or any of the other beloved city golf courses, Jackson, West Seattle or Interbay. They embody the spirit of Seattle at its core. If you take it away, you will become a mayor of the privileged and downtrodden, but not of the middle class. I speak for the middle class. We must hold on to our cherished gathering spaces if there is any hope for peace and unity. Yes, there are many needs that must be met. But surely, eliminating the ones whose heartbeats thrive and whose essence nurtures what we now need so much is not the way. Please come and see for yourself — Jefferson Park, where our city thrives.