Chelan Golf Course subject of presentation and ideas

by Richard Uhlhorn

Parks Director Paul Horne opened a discussion with City Council by saying, “We need to prioritize things we need to fix.”

“We will be relocating Hole 17,” said Horne. Hole 17 is located adjacent to the new Campbell’s housing development and the concern is that golf balls may land on or near the houses. “It will not cost the City anything,” said Horne who added that the developer has signed an agreement to pay for the relocation.

Horne stated that with all the new homes being build around the course and at close by developments, the community is actually developing new golfers.

Erin McCardle commented on the consultant’s potential bias. “I would like to see the financial gain at the Clubhouse and the opportunity we have for fine dining there,” said McCardle. “Those all take strong management. What is the return on improving the clubhouse,” she asked?

Horne replied that for people who live up there, it is a no brainer. “They could walk to the clubhouse.” He added that an economic strategy was needed. McCardle stated that the next step towards improving the clubhouse is an analysis and budget. “We’ve had this type of discussion three or four times. The next step is to get to the next step.”

Ty Witt said, “I could really support a good steakhouse. We should be using this facility at night.” He called it an economic multiplier. “I’m not seeing that. These are economic multipliers.”

John Olson added that in the past the golf course grounds have been used for winter time activities like sledding and cross-country skiing. He added that the facilities could be used as a wedding venue and suggested a hiking/biking trail around the course which was immediately shot down because of the danger of being hit by a golf ball.

Tim Hollingsworth said he was with Erin. “We need to stay on top of this.” He added that the City needs to be cognizant about competing with private business. We need to dance around that issue… my other concern is the future of golf. It is an aging sport.”

Peter Jamtgaard added that people are fleeing from the metropolitan areas and he has been amazed at the number of people that have visited the valley for the first time, including the golf course. “It is a huge opportunity to capture them.”

Servando Robledo cautioned that the overall goal was to make the golf course profitable. “We need to be careful. My goal is to have a balanced approach.”

Jamtgaard asked how much the course is going into the red on a yearly basis. Horne replied that the average is $40,000 per year.

This has been an unusual year for the Chelan Municipal Golf Course. It originally opened for business on March 6, but was shut down by Governor’s orders in response to COVID on April 13 and stayed shut down until May 5 when it opened to 50 percent capacity. On May 15, the Governor released golf courses and it has operated since then.

This year has been a good one for rounds played. To date, 15,872 rounds have been played for a 74 percent increase over 2019. In 2019 there were 9,123 rounds played.

The report stated that there were more first time players on the course than ever before and plenty of compliments on the course’s ground conditions, much of which is due to the April to May closure that allowed the grounds maintenance people to do a lot of work.

The report goes on to say that the Golf Course is a community asset and a business enterprise.

The Chelan Golf Course was originally built in 1969 by a private group of citizens. It was given to the City in 1975.

The Consultant reported that a plus/minus $3.5 million dollar bond is potentially required within the next five to seven years for capital investments. He estimated $4,462,667.00 excluding any clubhouse improvements.

He feels that the key to the success of the course is:

An upgraded website;

Improved quality and quantity of marketing; and

Improved communications between departments and concessions.

The local high schools hold golf tournaments at the Chelan course with Caribou Trail League and B school teams.

The survey the Consultant sent out received 876 respondents of which 203 had a 98816 zip code. Fifty eight percent of respondents felt that the municipal golf experience should be focused on avid golfers, leagues, outings, and tournaments while another 40 percent saw the course as an entry level one appropriate for players of all abilities.

When it came to course recommendations, Gamble Sands was number one with Desert Canyon coming in at number two and Chelan at number three in the region.

Chelan is liked by many golfers because it has the best price, best customer service and best value.

The big question is how to manage the course. Should it be self managed by the Parks Department, under some sort of controlled management, leased, or sold to a private buyer.

The City would like to see its Golf Course as “A Municipal Course with a Country Club Feel.”

Knowing that Chelan’s golfing contingent have strong feelings about the future of the course, comments would be welcome on what they would like to see. One thing is for sure… the cost of a round of golf is going to go up.

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