Golf fee increases on Dec. 5 agenda; golf board looks at revenue ideas, changes to tournaments

A proposal to increase golf fees will be considered during the Dec. 5 City Commission meeting.

The fee increases are projected to generate an additional $90,300 in revenue for 2018 and an additional $49,800 on top of that for 2019, according to Park and Rec.

The recommended golf fee changes are:

  • Increase season pass fees by 10 percent in 2018 and 5 percent in 2019 (excludes junior passes)
  • Eliminate single course season passes for Eagle Falls Golf Club and Anaconda Hills Golf Course and offer only the joint season pass in 2019.
  • Eagle Falls and Anaconda Hills 2018 season pass holders would be grandfathered in and would not be required to purchase a joint season pass in 2019.
  • No fee increases in 2018
  • 5 percent fee increase in 2019 (excludes junior green fees)
  • Anaconda Hills only – children ages 5-12 play free, including cart seat, with a paying adult.
  • Reinstate cybercard, which includes 25 percent discount on green fees, cart rentals, range balls and pro shop merchandise (in-stock, regularly priced items) for $85 in 2018, with an increase to $90 in 2019.
  • Small bucket of balls, increase from $3.00 to $4.00 for 2018 and to $5.00 in 2019.
  • Large bucket of balls, increase from $5.00 to $6.00 for 2018 and to $7.00 in 2019.
  • Increase annual cart pass fee 10 percent in 2018, and 5 percent in 2019.
  • Cart rental for 9 or 18 holes (per person) remains the same.
  • Tournaments and Group Outings: eliminate $5 per person fee; no change to trail or cart storage fees.

Golf fee increases get first reading during City Commission meeting

Patty Rearden, who has been serving as interim Park and Rec director, said some of the reductions would be in the form of one-time expenses in recent years that will not recur in the near future.

Park and Rec will also close Anaconda Hills on Sept. 30 in 2018, a month earlier than the usual end of October closure, to save an estimated $10,000. That annual early closure will remain indefinitely depending on golf finances in the coming years, according to city staff.

Those with an Anaconda Hills season pass would be able to go to Eagle Falls for the last month of the season, Rearden said.

They’re cutting costs where they can, Rearden said, but much of their focus is now luring back players and tournaments that have left in recent years for private courses in Great Falls.

Houck asked why the cart fees weren’t being increased and Rearden said a lot of those costs are covered by season pass holders so staff and the Golf Advisory Board didn’t want to raise cart fees and hit the pass holders twice.

The recent Park and Rec master plan didn’t focus on the municipal golf program, but it did indicate a need to decide on selling or repurposing Anaconda Hills.

During Monday’s Golf Advisory Board meeting, George Geise presented an idea about a possible senior golf tournament for Great Falls next summer to raise money for junior golf programs.

“We have a very active senior golf community here in Cascade County,” he said.

Geise is a member of the city Park and Recreation Advisory Board.

City has multiple openings on advisory boards

Geise also serves on the board of the Montana State Golf Association and said one of their focuses is getting more young people interested in golf since the sport has been declining in recent years.

On Monday, Geise said he was in the early planning stages and that he would come back to the board with a more developed plan, but the board offered suggestions on including play on both city courses for the two-day tournament or possibly Meadowlark County Club.

The golf board also discussed options for changing the rules for tournaments at city courses in an effort to increase tournament play, which can be a major revenue driver for the golf budget.

Those suggestions include a modified shotgun start option to accommodate smaller tournaments or league play. Some tournaments left city courses because they couldn’t meet the 100 player minimum for a shotgun start, board members said.

The board scheduled an additional meeting for Jan. 3 to further discuss the tournament rule change suggestions.

For ideas to generate revenue for the golf courses, the board discussed a plan to raffle seasons passes, a cybercard or something like a golf bag or cart. Rearden said it would likely need to be run through the golf leagues since the city could probably not run a raffle.