Widely-Hated Golf Course Changes Are Permanent

Submitted by Brian on July 27th, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Press release from what appears to be the world's most incompetent PR firm.


The Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Board of Directors today reaffirmed its earlier decision to enforce new parking regulations beginning with the first Michigan game versus Western Michigan September 5.

"We appreciate the time and effort that a number of people have taken to ask for reconsideration due to their desire to remain in private parking areas where they can be with the longtime friends and colleagues," said Larry Eiler, chairman of AAGO parking.

"However, despite the requests, we have again gone over the safety and accountability issues that apply to all people who park at the club.  And our decision is that all patrons are best served by parking in the spaces we direct them to in order for us to have them park properly, place canopies in the proper space behind any vehicle and occupy one space, not two or more spaces."  These regulations will be enforced by the club's parking supervisors and the Washtenaw County Sheriffs who assist the club in enforcement of all parking rules.

"We are disappointed at the decision of patrons to disagree with the new regulations, which were made for safety concerns.  However, we understand the decision to seek other parking sites where 10-20 members of a groups can park all in one spot, safely," said Eiler.

We recommend that patrons who desire to park together coordinate their entry to that they have their desired group all entering at once and not randomly as in the past.  We also recommend that people enter in vehicles that contain their cooking and other utensils so they can still be together at one site.

One photo below shows how vehicles whose patrons use canopies must place those canopies - behind their vehicles.  "The second photo demonstrates the safety problem we encounter virtually every game as vehicles use extra spaces to set up canopies, play games, place cooking utensils and tables/chairs," Eiler said.
Parking supervisors will direct people to the next available spot when they enter the course from either the main gate on Stadium Blvd. across from the UM Crisler Arena or on Saline Road across from the Scio Church Road entry to Saline Road.
Parking prices remain the same for the fifth year in a row, $40 per vehicle and no charge  this year for canopies placed properly.


All vehicles parked on the Ann Arbor Golf & Outing Club course during Michigan football games must place canopies like the photo above - behind their parked vehicles.  No canopies may be placed beside or in front of vehicles.  There is no charge this year for use of canopies.  Patrons who place canopies improperly risk being evicted from the course.


Reason for parking regulation changes.  This example of vehicles parked with canopies improperly placed at the 2008 Michigan State game is the underlying reason for the AAGO parking change rules.  The scene at the top of the grade along the second hole demonstrates how canopies, games, cooking utensils and seats use extra space by vehicles and impede ingress and egress along the fairway.  Similar sites are noted on other holes across the course.  Emergency vehicles cannot pass the clogged pathways intended for vehicles to reach parking sites.  They are not intended for canopies, cooking utensils, games, tables and chairs.
Portion of Statement by Jeff Carter, president of Ann Arbor Golf & Outing Club, To club members

Dear Golf & Outing Member,
Our outside parking guests have traditionally been able to park in a spot of their choice.  Beginning this season, they will be required to park according to order of entry and arrival time. There has been pressure from non-member groups to revise our new regulated parking routine, and the purpose of our letter is to clarify the reasons for the changes.  We have reconsidered our decision announced in June and have again found that safety must be the primary criterion for allowing guests to park on our course.

Over the past several years, there has been tremendous growth in the use of canopies by our patrons. We have unsuccessfully tried to control the placement of these in order to maintain available parking places for other vehicles as well as maintaining entry lanes, and we are now at the point where the police have indicated that we must resolve the issue. Access to all areas of the course for emergency and security vehicles has at times been literally blocked by improperly placed vehicles and tent-type structures.  The emergency professionals simply can't get there at certain times to assist when the ingress and egress routes are blocked by canopies and games.

There has been much criticism by outsiders that our changes are based upon "more money."  The fact is that we have not increased our $40 fee for several years and have never charged for canopies. While these canopies and tents do take up some of our available spots, the purpose of this change is about safety and security for our patrons and members.

Ann Arbor Golf & Outing is a private club and policies cannot be dictated by outside opinion or misinformation.  We do value the opinions expressed to us by longtime parkers and have taken several weeks to reevaluate our decision.  Please consider when you have visited ANY parking venue where you have been allowed to park wherever and however you wished.

The changes are entirely about safety and security for both guests and members.


Tha Quiet Storm

July 27th, 2009 at 2:50 PM ^

I don't seem to recall hearing of any accidents/safety issues at the golf course last year (or the year before that, or the year before that...).

Also, I'd love to see one of these "parking supervisors" attempt to evict a group of 10 or 20 liquored up fans on the basis of their canopy not being in an authorized position. That would surely go well.

lexus larry

July 27th, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

Why doesn't the Goodyear blimp fly over Michigan Stadium, yet can fly over the Super Bowl? Because of "safety" or "terrorism" concerns in Washtenaw County. No more Blimpy Burger trailers telling us it's almost as good as food.

Agree with all the points about a medi-golfcart making it's way through to any codger requiring medical assistance.

This just may require a little different coordination of a caravan of tailgaters, how they get into the course and where they park. Similar to last years lament on the Grey Lots being adjusted, due to stadium construction/renovations. Go with the flow, and adjust on the inside.


July 27th, 2009 at 3:59 PM ^

Sure, it's about Benjamins - not getting the shit sued out of them when someone has a heart attack on the course, and they allow people to obstruct the ambulance's path to the person. Why, in people's mind, does someone need to die before a change is justified? This is ass-covering to prevent a lawsuit.


July 27th, 2009 at 4:26 PM ^

The subtext to all the comments from the AAGO official quoted is that the current/old scheme resulted in wasted space that could/should be creating revenue. Using Health and Safety concerns is just a convenient way of justifying the change. If games, chairs, cooking equipment, etc. are such an impediment to first responders and pose such a serious threat to life-safety, why aren't all obstructions (real, potential, perceived, or otherwise) not banned in all tailgating areas everywhere? Can anyone really tell me that emergency personnel have unfettered access to the far corners of the lots behind the stadium and Crisler? AAGO, call it what it is...cash grab. However, it is your property, so feel to manage it however you choose.


July 27th, 2009 at 4:47 PM ^

So...it is a private club...they are entitled to profit from their location...if you don't like it buy your own piece of land and tailgate how you please...I have sat on boards who hold these kind of annual public events and letters from the police/fire/ambulance are a big deal and can prevent being able to get things like event permits and insurance.


July 27th, 2009 at 5:19 PM ^

I'm not saying that safety doesn't fit their concerns. I AM saying that if safety is a concern, they could simply put down a new rule that there must be a passable vehicle lane every 30 feet, or whatever, and then people could still park as they like, within some sort of grid setup or something. Instead of neat rows that pack X number of cars into the same area, they would have paths, and allow people to park and tailgate however they like between those paths.

Safety is a concern. I simply don't believe it's the foremost reason they decided to make these changes.


July 27th, 2009 at 5:13 PM ^

My Uncle is on the Board at AAGO, I asked him about the reason for the changes while up at our family cottage last week.

Apparently, within the past couple years, there has been at least one heart attack and one broken leg on the course during football saturday tailgates. I guess some dude was tossing a football around and ran off the top side of a steep fairway bunker and fractured his leg. The emergency services took a long time to make it back to the scene due to the parking situation. If it had been a broken neck, the guy likely would have died.

Not sure about details on the heart attack, except the guy was closer to the front and managed to walk to the clubhouse.

The police, insurance company, worried board members, all felt that it was necessary to prevent any potential future disasters by ensuring that there are clear paths for emergency vehicles to enter.


Kilgore Trout

July 27th, 2009 at 2:48 PM ^

Granted I have family parking two blocks from the stadium and have never parked at the golf course, but this seems kind of reasonable to me. A free for all with people parking and setting up all over the place wherever they wants seems like kind of a disaster. If someone were to have a heart attack, would there be any chance for an ambulance to get back there?


July 27th, 2009 at 2:52 PM ^

Because I'm pretty sure that it's not like that for every game. MSU, UM is probably the busiest day at the golf course (along with OSU and ND) so I hardly think that this is a fair representative for all games.

So maybe for really big games they should do this but for games like Deleware they shouldn't?


July 27th, 2009 at 2:49 PM ^

I mean, what the hell is going on here? If it's some obese 68-year-old choking down his ninth bratwurst and it gets lodged halfway down his gullet, I say wait until after kickoff to deal with it.


July 27th, 2009 at 3:01 PM ^

i dont mind the canopy thing. that makes sense. but dictating where people are going to park is bs.

then again, their attendants have been telling us where to park for decades. and we've been ignoring them and parking where we want just as long

Big Boutros

July 27th, 2009 at 3:10 PM ^

There's a grassy area to the left of State Street as you drive towards Yost from 94, just after the train tracks traffic light. My uncle tailgates there and it's more or less unregulated; there's always some dude in a 30-foot excursion with two generators, a flat-screen, ten grills full of bad meat, etc etc. If you're looking for old-fashioned canopy boozing, look into that spot.


July 27th, 2009 at 3:28 PM ^

That they mentioned games. So is there to be no more cornhole, beer pong, etc?

Because seriously people couldn't move that in an emergency... Without the games I'm pretty sure that tailgating sucks

eric jay

July 27th, 2009 at 6:18 PM ^

This seems drastic if their intent was to clear emergency lanes for safety.
It seems to me they could have threatened to write tickets if you block certain emergency routes and then have the sheriff come around give one warning and then write tickets...
The current solution appears to appease the sheriff and make them some money in the process...
Its a private company that is entitled to use the land as they see fit.
Just like we will be entitled to go elsewhere.
Forty dollars is not cheap.
Implied in that price is some extra space to spread out and have fun.
If they plan to set it up like a parking lot people will just park somewhere else.
I know I wont park there until i hear they are allowing people to take up the space they want... within reason.


July 27th, 2009 at 8:23 PM ^

I thought the whole gameday experience started going downhill when they stopped allowing fans to bring food and beverages (including alcohol) into the stadium. Then, a few years later, you weren't allowed to leave the stadium during halftime anymore if you wanted to get back in. The changes always place restrictions on the fans, and public safety is always cited as the main reason.

It was a money grab then, and it's a money grab now. I hope AAGaO loses their ass on this one.


July 27th, 2009 at 8:36 PM ^

I understand why people are upset but I am sure everything will be fine when football season begins. First of all I am sure they are not going to park people so close that you can barely get out of your car and I am sure you will have some grassy area close you can play your tailgate games. The biggest change I see people used to tailgating there will have to make is making sure everyone pulls in together which means that one car in your group that likes to sleep a little longer and show up late will have to either wake up earlier or not get to park with the rest of the group.

This is a private course and the members all pay dues. If this is a money grab then fine. If I was a member and paying dues and it was either my dues went up or they did this I would choose the change in parking.

Anyway I am sure this won't be such a big deal by halfway through the season when people get used to the new rules or find a new place to park.