City renews golf management contract
City Commissioners unanimously approved a contract extension with CourseCo for management of the city’s two golf course through Jan. 31, 2025.
The city approved the management agreement with CourseCo in December 2018 that became effective Feb. 1, 2019 through Jan. 31, 2022 for management of Anaconda Hills Golf Course and Eagle Falls Golf Club.
The agreement had an option to renew for an additional three years.
The golf course fund had been identified as an “at risk fund” for a number of years. Several years ago, in an attempt to make the golf courses financially stable and alleviate pressure on the general fund, the city issued an request for proposals for management of the golf courses. At the time, there was discussion of possibly closing a course if they couldn’t generate revenue.
Jeff Stange, manager for both courses in Great Falls for CourseCo, told commissioners that play continued to increase at the courses and revenue was up about $400,000.
He said there were 42,000 rounds last year and that was up to 47,000 rounds this year.
Stange said they’re operating in the black and believe the golf courses can be an asset for the city.
Commissioner Tracy Houck said approving the management agreement was “quite the gamble for us…but all I hear are wonderful things.”
In August, City Manager Greg Doyon told commissioners, “we’re pretty happy with the way they’ve been able to operate the courses and the successes they’ve had.”
CourseCo is paying the city about $264,000 for the management fee for Jan. 1-June 30.
City officials expect the payment for the second half of the year to be higher as more golf rounds are played through the summer and of the season passes are sold during that time period.
Doyon said the funds can help the golf fund pay off its debt to the city’s general fund, which has hovered around $1 million for several years.
But the city also has commitments for improvements at the golf course.
Steve Herrig, city Park and Recreation director, said that to date, CourseCo has paid the city about $674,000 and the city has spent about $80,000 on renovations for the taphouse at Eagle Falls Golf Course.
The city received $330,000 from CourseCo in the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
“These payments are being deposited into the Golf Fund and therefore reducing the deficit, but it has not yet been determined how much or when these payments will be used to either pay off their deficit or go towards capital needs,” Kirsten Myre, deputy finance director, said told The Electric in August.
According to the staff report for the Sept. 21 meeting, “CourseCo has provided numerous opportunities for cost savings and has generated new revenues in many areas, including operating the concessions at both courses in-house. CourseCo has made several improvements at the courses and has also returned significant revenue to the city annually during the three years of their agreement.”