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Getting munis up to par

   Before Brighton Golf Course in the Town of Tonawanda started taking tee times, it was not uncommon to see cars in the parking lot before dawn and people asleep inside them as they waited to greet the starter and begin their round at the dawn's first light.

   No one ever accused golfers of being normal.

   But they do know what they like: low rates and well-maintained courses, which is what municipal courses in Western New York have delivered for years.

   The future of the "munis" is the subject of some concern, as fewer people take up the game and more higher-end courses enter the marketplace.

   That has led to suggestions that courses privatize - the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy has had success with the three former city courses, while Niagara Falls tried privatizing with a part of Hyde Park and it didn't work - or make investments to keep up with the competition.

   The question we asked golfers and golf course officials for our article today is the same one we ask you: Should local governments be in the golf course business?

   --- Stephen T. Watson and Bruce Andriatch



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