City wants to improve Dunedin Golf Club | North district

by | Sep 26, 2021 | Driving Ranges

DUNEDIN City Commissioners are considering recommendations that are expected to ensure the operation and condition of Dunedin Golf Club is on solid ground for years to come.

Richard Singer, representative of the National Golf Foundation Consulting, discussed a sustainability study on the golf club with city commissioners on August 31st.

The club is reported to be a good quality golf facility with a mix of amenities, but in less than ideal condition due to the age of the greens and grass types.

The course also has poor drainage and insufficient irrigation pressure with frequent breaks.

The foundation identified approximately $ 2.3 million to $ 2.75 million in investment projects to address necessary repairs and new investments to upgrade facilities.

The most expensive capital item would be a complete replacement of the irrigation system, which the consultants believe should be completed at the same time as the green space improvement project.

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said commissioners had discussed the golf course since she was in office.

“This is our third or fourth time. How will the club be?” She said.

“And I just think it’s time to put our money where our mouth is and do our best,” she said. “What does that mean? I do not know. I’m not going to dissect this now. Because I think we have the experts there who come back and say if that’s what you want, that’s how you get it, “said Bujalski.

Commissioner Jeff Gow, who is the Commission’s liaison officer for the golf club, said commissioners take pride in making the most of projects.

One of the difficulties he has faced since serving as commissioner is the lack of a plan for the golf club.

“I’m just a great planner. I think if you don’t plan, you plan to fail, ”he said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us.”

The golf club is owned by the city of Dunedin, which is usually operated under a license as a private golf club for members only.

The form of golfing is not common on public sector golf courses, the foundation report said, but it has helped shield the city from economic responsibility for a period of 80 years.

It was also discussed whether this form of management should be continued. Commissioner Moe Freaney said further analysis was needed to understand the risks and rewards of handing over management of the golf club to city officials.

The problem is that “the city manager now has new headaches,” she said.

Mike Bowman, president of Dunedin Golf Club, said the club enjoyed working with the advisors

“You hear we’re doing pretty well,” said Bowman. “We’re getting money in the bank, that’s great.”

Singer said it was clear from the commission’s comments that they wanted the golf club to be a high quality operation.

It has to have a master plan and “stick to it,” he said.

Commissioner John Tornga said the golf club was “a huge part of our history”.

“How do we make sure we’re as profitable as possible, whether we’re for-profit or nonprofit, to help cover the cost of what we have,” said Tornga.

There will always be a risk as city officials minimize the “risk of big loss,” he said.

City officials will continue to meet with advisors to work out further details on the scope of the work to be done.

The golf club has a rich history that dates back to 1927. The club includes an 18-hole championship golf course designed by the famous architect Donald Ross, a clubhouse, a pro shop / cart bar, a maintenance facility and a driving range.

Other findings and comments from the National Golf Foundation Consulting include:

• Green and member fees are reasonable. There may be a possibility that an increase in fees will be supported by a system upgrade

• The golf club has had a very strong performance over the past 15-18 months, both in terms of activity and revenue.

• The club’s revenue for 2019 was estimated at $ 2.75 million. They fell to $ 2.4 million in 2020 due to closures related to COVID-19. Revenue could exceed $ 3 million in 2021.

• Total annual cost of ownership has remained stable, ranging from $ 2.5 million to $ 2.7 million.

• The license agreement between the city and the club provides that the golf course is maintained as a first-class facility. The foundation is of the opinion that the standard will not be met. In addition to significant new capital investments, the city and club must also commit to an expanded golf course maintenance program, which is likely to add at least $ 172,000 to the annual maintenance budget.

• Customer surveys show strong support for the golf club but a “deep-seated” concern for the physical condition of the golf course, particularly the greens.

• Membership is aging and more needs to be done to attract young golfers.