Clapp Golf Course could close by end of September

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The Wichita Park Board has voted to close the L.W. Clapp Golf Course in Southeast Wichita. The decision came during an emergency meeting at Wichita City Hall Friday afternoon.

Dozens of people attended the meeting, which lasted more than two hours. A lot of them said the turnout was so strong because the park had been part of memories for decades.

“My son learned, my husband learned, I’m now playing with my grandchildren, teaching them in the Junior Golf Program volunteering,” said Candia Smith, a golfer and neighbor to the course near Harry and Oliver. “I’m out there on Mondays and Tuesdays.”

Other community members are upset because the golf course was a strong attraction to the area, giving kids a chance to learn a new skill and a hobby for them to spend time outdoors.

“I think there is enough people who would look at this and find ways to keep it open,” said Cindy Renard, another resident who has been working to keep it open.

Not enough people on the Parks board agreed – voting 4-3 to close at the end of September. The city will still own the land and maintain the areas a park until a master plan is created for the area’s future.

The board had previous called Clapp the smallest and worst-performing course in the Wichita. A city report revealed that the course lost $230,000 last year alone and had declining attendance in recent years.

The recommendation now goes to the City Council, so the closure isn’t final yet. Councilman James Clendenin said that while he’s sad to see the recommendation, finding the money to keep toe park funded could be a tough sell.

“The city council is going to wrestle with things like adding police officers, funding for firefighters, funding for streets, servicing our debt,” he said. “Clapp Golf Course is going to fit into that conversation now.”

The council has not set a date for discussion of the issue, yet.