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Duluth Golf Courses See Another Year of Financial Loss

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: November 13, 2019 12:05 AM

The Duluth City Council heard grim news about the revenue from the cities municipal golf courses and projections for next year during a budget meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

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Duluth's Director of Public Administration Jim Filby Williams said the golf courses lost about $191,000 this year. 51,300 in rounds were played in 2019.

The loss has to do with the winter that significantly damaged the greens at Enger Golf Course. It resulted in having one of the nines at Enger close for most of the high season. He estimates they lost about $100,000 in net income and 10,000 rounds of golf.

Filby Williams said there was a steady decrease in rounds that was a result of shortening the shoulder season at Lester. 

"We were spreading a diminished number of golfers on the shoulder seasons across our two courses and operating at a greater loss as a result," said Filby Williams. 

He added that they also strategically moved more rounds from pass holders to a daily fee.

On a national level, Filby Williams said for the first time in 14 years, national golf participation increased. He also added that in the Duluth and Superior area, 12,000 golfers per public 18 holes course is the 24th best served and most concentrated by public golf in the United States. 

Looking into next year, they'll begin a process of incremental increases in rates for golfers. The season pass rates for the year won't be changed but golf cart rates are expected to increase to reflect the cost of a new fleet of golf carts.

"Most of the effective fee increases in the daily passes we changed to be plus tax, instead of inclusive of tax to mirror the standard practice of other area courses," said Filby Williams.

He said the impact of that on green fees will be about $2 per round. They also added disc golf fees.

Filby Williams pointed out that 2020 will be the first year that Lester operates with 18 holes instead of 27. 

The city continues seeking proposals for possible housing developments at Enger Park Golf Course and at the lake 9 section of the Lester Golf Course.The City of Duluth said they are specifically interested in proposals that include residential development.  

Course managers predict they'll have 60,000 rounds of play in 2020 and a loss of over $116,000.

Filby Williams also mentioned that they released a request for information to golf management companies who may be interested in managing the courses in 2021 since their current contract with Billy Casper ends soon. 

Credits

Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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