Some golfers upset about early closure, test program at Anaconda Hills

Miscommunication, confusion or lack of awareness related to a schedule change at Anaconda Hills Golf Course has caused some turmoil among the city’s golfing community.

During Monday’s golf advisory board meeting, several unhappy golfers came to share their frustrations.

The crux of the issue is that Anaconda Hills was set to close Sept. 30, but in late September, staff announced that they were going to test a new idea for the month of October. The October pilot program includes a reduced rate on greens fees, cart rentals and the driving range are in effect. But season passes are not being honored at Anaconda Hills for the month and those passholders can play at Eagle Falls this month.

The four golfers who attended Monday’s meeting said they didn’t know the course was closing on Sept. 30 and thought their Anaconda Hills passed were valid through the end of October.

City staff told those golfers that their passes would be honored at Eagle Falls, but the golfers said they preferred Anaconda Hills.

One of the unhappy golfers, Steve Malicott said he felt like he was being cheated out of something he had paid for.

The golf board voted during an October 2017 meeting to close Anaconda Hills on Sept. 30, 2018 and honor season passes for that course at Eagle Falls for October.

The closure date was presented to the City Commission last fall and the commission voted in December to approve increased golf fees and the closure date was reported by The Electric on Nov. 27, 2017. The closure would save the city an estimated $10,000 during what has traditionally been a slow month at Anaconda Hills.
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The golf fund owes the city’s general fund roughly $1 million and has long been classified an at-risk fund for the city. City Manager Greg Doyon has said on numerous occasions that the golf debt is limiting the city’s ability to tackle other needs.
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Staff and the golf board have been attempting for years to generate revenue and increase usage while also cutting costs at the city’s two golf course.
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Malicott said he wasn’t aware of the closure date though staff pointed out that it was printed on all receipts issued to season pass purchasers. Malicott said in the city’s online pass sales system it shows that the pass is valid through Oct. 31, 2018, which is true, staff said, since it will be valid at Eagle Falls. Staff was looking into tweaking the descriptions in that system to ensure clarity of the months each course was open.

Staff acknowledged that they could have done more to ensure golfers were aware of the change though some of the golfers said that staff at the courses had done their best to let golfers know.
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The golfers expressed frustration with Connie Cramer-Caouette, the golf supervisor, for opting to speak to golfers individually about the change instead of addressing groups, specifically the Thursday morning senior golfer group, as they had requested.

Malicott and the other golfers asked the city to allow season pass holders to use their passes at Anaconda Hills in October since it wouldn’t cost them any money.

City staff said that the course was planned for closure, but the test was to see if offering reduced green fees would get other golfers out and generate additional revenue since that course typically doesn’t make enough money in October to cover costs.

On Monday, the first day of the test program, the course generated $829 in revenues compared to $299 and $196 on Mondays in October 2017 when the course was open to season pass holders.

The city can still close Anaconda Hills due to weather or low participation in the test program.

Got a question about the golf scheduled for October? Call Anaconda Hills at 761-8459 or the Park and Recreation Office at 771-1265.