Billy Casper Golf, which manages both courses for the city, proposes to boost the price of a season pass by $50 and bump up green fees by $1 to help improve the financial picture in 2019.
Duluth’s two municipal golf courses — Enger Park and Lester Park — will post yet another loss, the Duluth News Tribune reported. Together, the golf courses expect to finish the year $76,645 in the red. That’s on top of more than $2.2 million in debt the courses had already amassed through previous years of operation.
The Duluth City Council learned of the losses during a budget report on December 17, the News Tribune reported.
No decisions have yet been made about the long-term viability of the golf operations, the News Tribune reported, but both 27-hole courses are expected to be open for business again in 2019, according to Jim Filby Williams, Duluth’s Director of Public Administration
The council was also to have received a report on the findings of a citizens’ advisory committee put together to assess the state of the golf courses, the News Tribune reported. Those findings were to inform a larger discussion about whether the city should look at possibly downsizing or even closing the Lester Park course, which consistently has generated less revenue than Enger Park.
However, Filby Williams said the committee will need more time to complete its work. The committee has been working on the task for about one year now, but Filby Williams said he does not wish to rush the report, which now is expected to go to the City Council at a yet-to-be-determined date in January 2019, the News Tribune reported.
While Duluth’s municipal golf courses continued to lose money in 2018, those losses were more modest this year, the News Tribune reported. Bill Rehanek, Senior Vice President of Operations for Billy Casper Golf (BCG), said that since his firm had taken over management of the courses in 2015, this year was “so far our best year financially.”
“I didn’t say it was a great year, but so far since the inception of the contract, we have enjoyed the best bottom-line result for Duluth golf in those four years,” Rehanek said.
Last year, the courses lost a combined $105,627, and this year’s losses were 27 percent lower, the News Tribune reported.
To help shore up the city’s golf finances next year, BCG proposes to boost the price of a season pass by $50 and to bump up green fees by $1, the News Tribune reported. Even with those increases, BCG forecasts another $77,000 loss in 2019.
Next year will be BCG’s fifth and final year in a five-year service agreement. Filby Williams said the city will put out requests for proposals for continued management services in 2020, and Rehanek indicated the firm would like to continue its relationship with Duluth, if the city so chooses, the News Tribune reported.
Fiby Williams gave the firm high marks for its work in Duluth, saying: “Billy Casper Golf has done an excellent job for us, improving our financial results, customer service and course conditions, to the extent that our deteriorated facilities permit.”