The National Trail Parks and Recreation District has changed its golf fees as part of a three-year plan to make golf self-sustaining.
The new fee structure includes several changes, such as renaming passes and tickets to memberships, adding a nine-hole rate for green fees and carts, increasing rates for premium tee times, extending winter rates, and creating an unlimited driving range pass and an unlimited cart pass.
The district hadn’t raised fees since 2008. Its board approved the changes by a 6-1 vote on Monday.
The city spent $170,000 in 2012 and $175,000 in 2011 to pay for golf operating deficits. If improvements aren’t made, one of the three public golf courses — Snyder Park, Reid North and Reid South — could close.
City commissioners budgeted $1.1 million for park district operations this year, but for the first time asked the district to earmark $50,000 for golf course improvements. The district will also receive another $175,000 from the city in 2013 for other non-golf capital projects.
The initial fees for premium memberships, formerly known as passes, will increase by $25 to $900 for regular, $850 for senior seven-days and $650 for senior weekday. Daily fees for memberships increased from $2 to $3.
Junior memberships decreased from $400 to $250. Every premium membership also includes an unlimited range pass.
Standard memberships, formerly known as tickets, increased their initial fees by $15 to $180 for regular, $150 for senior and $75 for young adult. Daily fees increased by $1 for each standard membership.
Greens fee changes were also made for daily fees to accommodate premium tee times, with prices ranging from $8 every day after 6 p.m. to $21 for 18 holes before 11 a.m. on weekends.
The district also created an unlimited range pass for $200, as well as an unlimited cart usage pass for $600. The winter rate will also extend from October through March.
Jim Kincaid was the lone board member to vote against the changes. Kincaid, a former president of the Southern Ohio PGA, was happy with breaking up hours for premium tee times, but disagreed with the change to the winter rate.
“You’re giving golf away the first three weeks of October,” Kincaid said.
Snyder Park pro Tim Grieser said the date was extended because the course conditions aren’t as good in the months of September and October due to the aeration of the greens.
“It’s a way to entice golfers to the course,” Grieser said.
Springfield Golf Association member George Huemmer said his concern is that golfers might go elsewhere with increased fees, especially with increased costs in other facets of life.
“There are going to be people in this town where, if you raise the fees, they may say ‘I don’t have the extra money to play,’ and they may go somewhere else or completely do away with recreation on the golf course,” Huemmer said.
“We don’t want to lose golfers,” said board member Terry Groeber. “In no way do we want to lose golfers, but golfers have to understand, just like everything you open up at a house, everything has gone up and everything has gone up for us, too.”
SGA board chairman Mike Bostick felt the process was handled carefully by staff members to make the courses financially self-sustaining, as well as keep prices down for golfers. He was happy to see a nine-hole rate created for people who want to play in the evening.
“There’s going to be a lot more play,” Bostick said.
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