The Edina City Council on Tuesday postponed a decision on whether to close Fred Richards Golf Course to a meeting later this month.

The city staff’s proposal to close “the Fred” to improve the finances of Edina’s municipal golf operation had raised a ruckus among the faithful, and a T-shirt-bedecked crowd turned out at the meeting to ask the council to save the course.

Defenders of the course, which is popular among novice and senior golfers and league players, had accused the city of moving too quickly toward a closing instead of looking at more options. In an attempt to delay a decision, about 230 residents had asked the state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to require the city to make an environmental assessment of any possible changes to the golf course site.

On Tuesday, city officials were waiting for an EQB letter but said they had been told by EQB staff that an environmental assessment would be discretionary for the city. That would not prevent the city from closing the golf course.

Council members said they wanted to see the EQB letter before making a decision. In the meantime, they asked city staff to prepare responses to questions and proposals from the Fred’s defenders.

“Once this course is gone, it’s gone forever as a golf course,” said Mayor Jim Hovland. “I would close it if I thought it was important to do … but we ought to take a little bit more time.”

The council will reconsider the issue at its meeting on March 18.