Owner decides to close Lanesborough golf, go-kart facility at end of month
LANESBOROUGH -- Bob Parsons has brought summer fun to countless people running a popular golf and go-kart facility.
Now he's ready to take in a little fun of his own.
Following a near decade-long run managing the Pitch N Putt and Thunder Alley GoKarts in Lanesborough, Parsons is planning to close the Route 7 recreational facility when his lease expires at the end of the month.
The next time Parsons is seen on the fairways, he could be swinging a club.
"I used to be a good [golfer]," Parsons said. "I've played once in the last four years. I haven't had time. I might get into it."
Parsons leased the location in 2004 and said he hasn't taken a summer vacation since. He's always wanted to go to Cape Cod, and perhaps now he can. As the sole employee, with help from family, he said the 12-hour days didn't leave a lot of time for fun.
Parsons, 62, isn't retiring. He will continue to work part-time as a Coca-Cola warehouse manager, but he's just cutting back his hours.
"I don't want to be 67 and pushing around a 500-pound go-kart," Parsons said.
He said it's been a joy running a recreational facility available to most budgets. He shows up to work in a T-shirt, shorts, and often times with his black Labrador. There are heart-tug challenges, he said, when he has to tell a child who falls short of the age restriction or height requirement they can't ride a go-kart.
It's important to enforce the rules because anyone shorter than 56 inches can't easily reach the pedal.
"I'd tell kids that are too short, there is always next year," Parsons said. "But [now] there is no next year."
He proudly says there has never been a serious accident at his track.
The Pittsfield resident said he's begun selling his wares. The landlord, Malcolm Baker, wasn't interested in purchasing his seven gas-powered go-karts, so he has two prospective buyers. The golf clubs will be donated to Pittsfield's Parks Department for its popular Sticks for Kids program. The lawn mower he rides more than two hours a day to cut about two-acres of grass also is being sold.
On a typical Saturday, there might be 80 to 100 go-kart riders and 30 to 50 golfers, he said.
Debbie Storie, the manager at neighboring Baker's Golf and speaking on behalf of Baker, said they are currently looking for someone who would take over the business. Storie said if someone is willing to invest in go-karts the facility could keep running as is.
"We're talking with someone, but we are also still looking," Storie said.
For Parsons, he's had fun, and plans to continue to do so.
"Next summer, I'll go on vacation like a normal person would," Parsons said. "If a job opens up, I might take it. Or I might take the summer off and enjoy it for a change."
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