NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 26, 2005

By eliminating free golfing as a perk for state officials and charitable groups, Kentucky's Department of Parks has demonstrated an act of government responsibility nearly as uncommon as a hole in one. No longer will a select few be able to slice and hook at taxpayers' expense, says the Bluegrass Institute.

Until January, it was a common -- and increasingly costly -- practice for state parks to offer free golf to park employees and their guests, charities and even public officials.

  • A 2002 study found that Kentucky's parks were giving away 32,000 rounds of golf at a cost of $500,000 each year.
  • Such giveaways likely played a part in driving the state parks' budget into the rough, producing an annual $29 million operating deficit.

Some affected charities are upset with the parks department about its decision. But they should remember that state parks do not belong to park officials and special favors are not theirs to give, says the Institute.

Charging everyone equally prevents abuse by some. One organizer of a charity golf event said that playing golf without paying at state parks "was just part of the good ol' boy network."

Instead of complaints, parks officials deserve a high-five from taxpayers for taking this significant step toward making their operations more profitable. In fact, Kentuckians should be encouraging department officials to privatize the state's parks, says the Institute:

  • At a minimum, privatization should be given the opportunity to work at the state's most unprofitable parks, which would be a good indication of whether such a policy would play well at other facilities.
  • Operating parks as private enterprises would provide the incentive toward lowering costs and increasing quality.

Source: "Fair play on Kentucky's links," Bluegrass Institute, July 12, 2005.


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