Rockford Park District looks to permanently close Sinnissippi Golf Course, locals react

Published: Sep. 11, 2019 at 10:38 PM CDT
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A $1.2 million deficit in the Rockford Park District's 2020 budget means changes are coming to the community in the form of cuts.

Rockford Park District officials are recommending the permanent closure of the Sinnissippi Golf Course, suspension of the Alpine Pool and suspension of Snow Park at Alpine Hills.

While all will be tough discussions, some in the Rural Oaks area say Sinnissippi should stay.

"The recommendation comes from really looking at the data and looking at the numbers of play," says Dan Jacobson of the Rockford Park District. "And play at Sinnissippi is down 32 percent from last year."

The course is expected to close its season with $100,000 in losses. District leaders suggested closing a golf course last year, as play is down nationwide and Rockford seems to be oversaturated with courses. However, it seems one course that was on the table last year, is off of the chopping block now.

"We feel that with the opportunities potentially with Hard Rock Casino, that that could be a real boost to Elliot," says Jacobson.

The Rockford Park District announced its partnership with Hard Rock earlier this year, and the Elliot Golf Course is less than a mile away from where the casino could go.

"There are opportunities now that weren't there before," says Jacobson. He also says the Elliot course is performing better financially, and it's where they host lessons and have a driving range.

"Sinnissippi is unique because it was the first park and it has just a steep history with the Rockford Park District," says District Board of Commissioners President Ian Linnabary. "So I expect there will be a lot of debate about Sinnissippi and its closure."

Those living near the course agree.

"I have been hit by a couple of golf balls over the years," jokes resident Ed Mutchler, who has lived across from the Sinnissippi Golf Course for 40 years. "The view is fantastic, we've seen the trees grow and grow and grow, but what we really like is the sunsets that come out."

The sunsets will stay, but the golfers he and his wife watch could soon leave. "I have mixed emotions because we know the park district has financial problems, so we recognize the need to make some changes."

Mutchler says he hopes they will put the course to good use still and maintain it.