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Golf courses in state parks 'the worst idea in history'

It's only the first week of the Legislature, and already it has set a record for the Worst Idea in the History of the World.

Look, I know the score.

The Republican bunch now in charge in Tallahassee won fair and square. The other bunch is a rump group of whiners, losers and liberals, and not for nothin' would I put them in charge either.

So, cut the schools. Bust the unions. Chain up the pregnant women. Strut about guns. Pave the state. Let corporations run wild.

Either this is what the people of Florida want, or else sooner or later they will do something about it. That does not mean D instead of R. It does mean actual grownups instead of sheer nutbags.

But as long as nutbags are in charge of Florida, my attitude is much like that of my friends raising teenagers:

Try, when you can, to prevent permanent damage.

This brings us to Senate Bill 1846 and House Bill 1239, which would require the state to contract to build a series of golf courses…

In Florida's state parks.

Not just any golf courses, mind you. They would be designed by the legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, a Floridian and an accomplished course designer.

The first 100 lines or so of the bills contain a series of "whereas" clauses that heap deserved praise upon Nicklaus. Just for a sample:

WHEREAS, there is no name more synonymous with greatness in the sport of golf than Jack Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 professional major-championship titles …

And so forth. The bill goes on to create the "Jack Nicklaus Golf Trail" in Florida's state parks, requiring at least five such courses around the state, and orders the state government to contract with Nicklaus to design them.

Oh, and the courses that will be built in state parks also get to have hotels.

Oh, and the hotels will be exempt from any pesky local government regulations.

Oh, and we will borrow the money to do it all, and pay it off with all the money that the state is going to make.

(I am surprised that, since another bunch in the Legislature is pushing for casinos, they don't kill two birds and put the casinos in the parks.)

My colleague Craig Pittman reports that this golf-course idea came up in a conversation between Nicklaus and Gov. Rick Scott.

According to Nicklaus' lobbyist (a phrase which, by itself, is astonishing), Nicklaus "wanted to do something for Florida — it's a legacy thing." He'll do one course for free and the rest at a discount.

At this point, words fail.

Parody is now dead in Florida. Irony is dead.

What good are parody and irony? What good are words?

What good are alligators?

What good is sawgrass?

What good are spoonbills, black bear, panthers, eagles, gopher tortoises, manatees?

None of it matters. The state is dying.

The weirdest and saddest thing is the hostility that the Legislature has toward the physical Florida itself.

To tear up the state, to pave it, to block the wetlands, to replace them with drainage ponds — to divide up the habitat of panthers and bears — to repeal the growth laws — to kill Florida Forever — and now, even to redevelop the state parks as golf courses! — this is "conservative." Sure.

By an old, old account, this world began with paradise, and with Certain Parties eager to destroy it. Well, brother, nothing much has changed.

Golf courses in state parks 'the worst idea in history' 03/09/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 5:08pm]
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