In the cold of winter the Jefferson city council is planning for spring. Council members Gary Von Ahsen and Larry Teeples, along with city administrator Mike Palmer, comprise a committee that has developed a new management plan for the city-owned Jefferson Community Golf Course. Approval of a rate schedule for 2015 memberships to the Jefferson Community Golf Course is on the agenda for the council’s Jan. 13 meeting.
The city council had a year ago entered into a two-year agreement with Joe, Steve and Craig Cuddy, doing business as Greene Properties LLC, to manage the golf course. Palmer said it was a mutual agreement between the Cuddys and the city to end the agreement.
The city purchased the former Raccoon Bend Golf Course (the local country club for decades) from Home State Bank in 2013 and entered into an agreement with Mike Healy to manage the course for the 2013 season. In both years, the managers agreed to pay a sum to the city and they were to retain any profit.
The city this year will hire a manager who will be paid a salary by the city and report to Palmer. The job has been posted as an 8-month seasonal position at a salary of $24,000 to $32,000.
Palmer doesn’t fault the previous management plans. “A small golf course is a tough thing for a private group to operate and make a profit,” he said. “It’s similar to a pool or a rec center. You’re doing well if you break even.”
The goal is “to take the ‘no’ out of why not play golf,” according to Palmer. Membership rates will be lower than before in an attempt to make them affordable to people of all ages. Golfers who are also members of Greene County Community Center will receive a punch pass for 25 visits to the community center or the swimming pool, or nine holes of golf. The punch pass can be used by family or friends. Memberships can also be paid for through a monthly automatic debit.
Golfers who are members at other golf courses will receive a discount on their Jefferson golf course membership, and anyone who lives outside of Greene County will also receive a discount. “Those people may not golf often. If they buy a membership, we can end up money ahead,” Palmer said.
The committee looked at financial reports from more than 15 golf courses as it developed the rate schedule. They also looked at the Jefferson park and recreation department and the Greene County Community Center. “How we run the rec center is a good model to follow. What we do there works,” Palmer said.
JPRD staff will advise and handle the sale of golf course memberships when the course isn’t open, but the golf course will not fall under JPRD on the city’s organizational chart. The manager will report to Palmer, not the JPRD director.
Along with memberships, the expectation is that the new manager will increase participation in golf leagues and will expand the number of tournaments and special events hosted at the course.
The clubhouse will remain, with the business of the course conducted from the lower level. No hard liquor will be served, but beer and wine will be available. At this time, the plan is to have a limited selection of snacks available.
The upper level will be available to rent for social events. The kitchen facility is limited; renters will bring in food for most events. “We aren’t really going to promote the clubhouse as a rental because we don’t want to take anything away from the other groups in town that do that. But, it will be available. We already have some dates booked for the coming season,” Palmer said.
The management plan is a starting point and will be evaluated and changed for the 2016 season if needed. The goal is to build membership to at least 120, which would be an increase of 25 over 2014. “When I drive past the golf course and I see no one golfing, I feel bad. It’s a beautiful course and it should be used,” Palmer said. “We’re offering an all new approach. We’re looking for stability and for ways to take away reasons not to golf. It’s a public course. It’s our course, and everyone will be welcome.”