Regular golfers at the public course in Colorado have been funding, and working on, maintenance projects and improvements that have included repairing cart paths and the parking lot and building a $10,000 gazebo. One player, a retired firefighter, saved the course $100,000 by repairing a tractor used for course maintenance. The community’s support is credited with helping the course increase revenue by 8% in 2015.
Desert Hawk at Pueblo West, a golf course owned and operated by Pueblo County, Colo., is doing better than expected financially because the people who play there are contributing more than just greens fees, KOAA TV NBC 5 of Colorado Springs/Pueblo reported.
Regulars at the Desert Hawk course are spending time and money on improvements to the county-owned facility, KOAA reported, and their support was a big factor in the course’s reported 8% increase in revenue in 2015, at a time when other area courses were struggling to stay afloat.
In addition, Desert Hawk has been able to usually stay open for business when other courses in southern Colorado are closed in the dead of winter, KOAA reported. “Unless you go to some of the real-expensive private clubs, as far as municipal courses this is as good as there is in the state,” retired firefighter Andy Griebel, who plays Desert Hawk at least twice a week, told KOAA.
Desert Hawk’s regular golfers have funded and worked on maintenance projects and improvements to the course ranging from repairs for cart paths and the parking lot to a $10,000 gazebo, KOAA reported. Griebel made a major contribution when he took on the repair of a tractor used for golf course maintenance, fixing both the engine and the transmission from his home garage. All the course had to pay for was parts, saving an estimated $100,000, KOAA reported.
“If you can volunteer some work for someone and just be a good steward doing something like this that you enjoy doing anyway, then it just helps out on the other end,” Griebel told the station.
“The community here is different,” said Mike Zaremba, Desert Hawk’s Director of Golf. “I’ve been at some other golf courses myself and have never seen anything quite like this, and it’s great to live out here because of that.”
To further its cost-saving practices, the course installed low-maintenance fescue grass in outlying areas that requires a fraction of the watering needs of other grasses, KOAA reported. Plus, the course maintenance team stopped using drinking water for irrigation, to lower monthly costs as well.
New marketing tactics have also boosted the revenues at Desert Hawk. By widening its advertising outreach, 25% of the players who come to the course now are from outside of Pueblo County, KOAA reported.
All of the changes reflect an effort towards smarter business practices that the course operators hope will lead to a return on investment for local governments. After the initial purchase of Desert Hawk in 2000, Pueblo County and Pueblo West Metro District refinanced the course for $7.9 million in 2005, KOAA reported.
“They probably paid a little too much for it,” Zaremba admitted. “But operationally now if we can make it, the debt will go away and then it’ll be a great benefit to the citizens here.”
The county and Pueblo West are scheduled to pay off the debt by the end of 2024, KOAA reported. To stay on that schedule, the course is aiming to increase its revenues by 10% each year for the next five years and then continue to grow into the future.