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Golf course committee wants more information

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A brainstorming session of a committee formed to find a way to make the Augusta Municipal Golf Course profitable again without privatizing it concluded with members saying they need more information.

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Jessie Morton golfs the back nine at Augusta Golf Course off Highland Ave Tuesday afternoon.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Jessie Morton golfs the back nine at Augusta Golf Course off Highland Ave Tuesday afternoon.

Committee chairman Bill Lockett, an Augusta commissioner whose district includes "the Patch," told Recreation & Parks Director Tom Beck he wants to see the course's profit/loss statements from the past five years, and committee members said they want financial information on other municipal golf courses.

"If any of them are making money, we need to see what they're doing that we're not doing," Lockett said during the group's first meeting.

He also said the city should look into marketing the course better by reaching out to seniors and retirees, for example.

"Government has a responsibility to provide certain things for its citizens," he said, "and I think in this case a public golf course is one of those things."

Beck said golf courses across the country, public and private, are having trouble making ends meet, and the problem is that profitability seems to have peaked in the early 2000s, about the time Tiger Woods' popularity peaked, and it's been tapering off ever since. Now, Beck said, it's impossible to raise fees to a level that defrays costs but is still affordable for the Patch's customers.

The commission's 2010 budget included $155,200 for the city course, which amounts to six months' funding. City Administrator Fred Russell cut funds for the past six months of the year in one of several measures that balanced the budget, recommending that the commission consider privatizing the course.

Commissioner Joe Bowles, a longtime advocate of privatization, is the committee's vice chairman. Other members of the Augusta Municipal Golf Course Study Committee, chosen by Lockett, are Keven Mack, Leroy Rogers, Tom Walter, Barbara Green and alternate Gwen Pollard.

Also present at Tuesday's meeting were interim course manager Ed Howerton; Kathy Hamrick, Augusta State University's special coordinator for academic and master planning; and Lockett's District 5 predecessor, Calvin Holland, who isn't a committee member but sat at the table offering input and suggestions.

Holland, a member of the Patch, said he opposes privatization because he fears it could lead to higher green fees.

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JackBootedThug 02/10/10 - 11:00 am
"Government has a

"Government has a responsibility to provide certain things for its citizens," he said, "and I think in this case a public golf course is one of those things." ???????
I can understand why the gubment should temporarily help provide shelter, food, and some healthcare, but why on earth does anyone think golf should be subsidized? I am all for a public golf course, but the users need to pay the freight, not the taxpayers. RAISE THE FEES!!!!!

deekster 02/10/10 - 11:48 am
Entertainment It is right

Entertainment It is right there with "free speech and freedom of religion". Amendment to the Constitution Bill of Rights. Amendment Two (sub v.5) The governments of state, local and federal shall provide "entertainment" for its citizens in numerous venues as to cover the full range of interest in said "entertainments". It is in the best interest for "all governmental bodies" that the populace be "entertained" and not left to abstract thought and questions of the form of governing. Such entertainment/s shall be funded by "income tax revenues"(fund grants), state income and sales taxes and "special taxes" at the behest of any elected or non elected government official.

corgimom 02/10/10 - 04:34 pm
Golf courses are not doing

Golf courses are not doing well as an industry. Before they ask for a study, I can give them some information. Golf is a luxury. The nation, and RC, are in a terrible recession. Quit listening to Deke, and don't believe something just because Forbes- who doesn't care a whit about Augusta- makes it #1 for something, or #5, or number #212. Results don't lie. And the commissioners want someone to wave a magic wand over a hat and pull out a rabbit. Here's what they need to do- either raise revenue or cut costs. There is no other way to do it.

my.voice 02/10/10 - 08:34 pm
Give it to ASU and let them

Give it to ASU and let them operate it.

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