Golf course consultant Jim Keegan informed the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board that it would need to invest substantially in its seven public golf courses to allow financially independent operations. Specific recommendations include closing the money-losing Fort Snelling Golf Club, while investing heavily to make Gross National Golf Club, already a top performer, even more attractive.
A golf course consultant told the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board that the seven Minneapolis public golf courses need $34 million in improvements to keep operating financially independently, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
In a report that Board President Liz Wielinski described as “brutally honest,” consultant Jim Keegan presented multiple shortcomings—bald greens, fairways sinking into saturated soil, “pathetic” websites, demoralized (and expensive) staff, and even “dated and disgusting” clubhouses—that the courses need to address to attract golfers and avoid using money from the Board’s general fund, the Tribune reported.
Specific recommendations include closing the Fort Snelling Golf Club as a money-loser in a bad location, while investing heavily to make Gross National Golf Club, already a top performer, even more attractive regionally. Gross, Wirth Golf Club, Hiawatha Golf Club and Meadowbook Golf Club should get clubhouse renovations or even expansions, Keegan recommended.
Also recommended were raising green fees at Meadowbrook, lowering them at Columbia Golf Club, Ft. Snelling and Gross, and raising them for seniors, many of whom, Keegan said, can easily afford it. But Columbia, the report indicated, probably would not repay significant investment, the Tribune reported.
Parks superintendent Jayne Miller, who said the deteriorating golf courses were one of her first concerns when she arrived in 2010, said the Board will need to determine within weeks what improvements it can make this year, seeking a long-term plan over the next several months, the Tribune reported.
Possible options outlined by Keegan include hiring private operators or closing some courses. Meadowbrook and Wirth require the most investment, nearly $9 million each, but Meadowbrook is one of two Keegan said have the greatest potential to generate income, the other being Gross, the Tribune reported.
Commissioner John Erwin noted it could be “a tough sell” for middle-income taxpayers to pay for improvements at Meadowbrook, for example, since it’s in Edina. Keegan said that reinforces the need for Minneapolis courses to be able to cover their own operating and capital costs, the Tribune reported.