Golfers, staff plead to keep golf course

City council hears emotional requests not to trade golf course for armory

As word spreads of the possibility of a Florida National Guard Armory coming to the land that has been the home of the Zephyrhills Municipal Golf Course, golfers of all ages turned out Monday night to plead to City Council to find a different location for the military facility.

A parade of golfers, golf course employees and volunteers stood before members of city council explaining the value of the 64-year-old course to players ages 8 to 80 and beyond.

“I’ve been going there for more than half my life,” said 16-year-old Jake Roberts. “I have a lot of fond memories from there. I’ve grown up there and there are so many great people.”

Currently, there is $25 million in the state budget for a Florida National Guard Armory to be built in Zephyrhills and the prime location, according to some state officials, is the Zephyrhills Municipal Golf Course.

Jake Roberts was followed by his father, Art, who explained that the golf course has been a huge part of his family’s life and the staff and players at the golf course supported him during the tragic loss of his young daughter to Cancer.

“The kindness and generosity they have shown us just astounds me,” the elder Roberts said. “The value to this community is immeasurable.”

Golf course manager Aya Burkhart said Zephyrhills Under Par, Inc., which operates the course, invested over $300,000 for new greens, restructuring the course layout, irrigation and the clubhouse improvements.

Burkhart reported that the course, which serves more than 15,000 golfers per season, has more than 10 employees with an average age over 70. In addition, there is a full complement of volunteers that help keep the facility running.

“We treat our players like a family,” Burkhart said. “We encourage them and they love it here. We’re open to everyone. We provide a safe and comfortable environment.”

The $25 million for the armory targeted for Zephyrhills is not a certainty. The budget will be reviewed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has line item veto power and could slash the project form the budget.

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