City of Cleveland Wants to Make Highland Park a "Tournament Ready" Golf Course

RFP says course should celebrate legacy as destination for minority golfers

click to enlarge Highland Park Golf Course, 3550 Green Road - @MayorBibb
Highland Park Golf Course, 3550 Green Road

Highland Park Golf Course, which opened in 1928 in Highland Hills, is known locally as one of few courses where Black golfers could tee off.

Though the 36-hole property is located within a veritable paradise of premier courses in the tony eastern suburbs — the verdant Canterbury Golf Club and Shaker Heights Country Club are only a few minutes away, by golf cart — Highland Park is the only one in that milieu open to the public. It remains one of the closest and most accessible courses for residents of Cleveland's predominantly Black east side neighborhoods. And though golfers don't tend to lug their clubs and shoes to the course by bus, Highland Park is one of the only courses in Northeast Ohio realistically reachable by public transit — number 14, what up.

Thursday, Mayor Justin Bibb and his office of capital projects issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a qualified consultant to "operate, manage and revitalize" Highland Park. The goal, the city says, is to transform Highland Park into a "tournament ready" course that celebrates its legacy as a destination for minority golfers and becomes a frontrunner in "community impact and sustainability."

"As Highland Park nears its centennial birthday (2028), this is an opportunity to elevate it as a premier public course for locals and as a destination for golfers from across the country," the RFP reads.

A press release from the city chronicled the course's history, including hosting the inaugural PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship in 1987 and serving as home course for the Sixth City Golf Club and Forest City Golf Club, two local African American leagues. Bibb noted, as an aside, that Highland Park was the first place where he ever played golf.

"It would bring me immense pride to restore the course and create a professional tournament-level course while maintaining it as a space for Black golfers, both aspiring and seasoned, to enjoy," he said in the release.

The city owns the property and city council has debated its future in recent years, with some hopeful that the Cleveland Metroparks would assume control on a long-term lease. The Metroparks operates eight courses in the region and took over the city-owned Seneca Golf Course in 2010 on a $1-per-year 99-year lease arrangement, investing in a significant renovation in 2014.  In 2020, Seneca overtook Big Met as the Metroparks most popular course. 

Via the RFP, the city would retain ownership of Highland Park, but said it would be open to "various business models" that allow for a "mutually beneficial" relationship for both the city and the consultant. The term of the agreement will be no longer than 30 years. The RFP says it expects the project to be completed "expeditiously" and expects the chosen consultant to begin operating the facility when golf kicks off in the spring of 2023.

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
Scroll to read more Cleveland News articles
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.