WILKES-BARRE — Golfers at the city’s two golf courses will see their rates increase slightly this season.
Pro shop manager John Kebles told the Wilkes-Barre Municipal General Authority board at a meeting last week that he had raised most fees by $2 at the course from Hollenback golf course in the north end of town and Wilkes-Barre Municipal Golf Club in Bear Creek Township.
With inflation affecting its bottom line, the board, which oversees both courses, is considering adding surcharges when golfers pay by credit card instead of cash.
Course superintendent Greg McElhattan said he intended to solicit offers on gasoline.
Inflation and rising gas prices could mean higher playing fees and more expensive clubhouse menu items at gold clubs everywhere.
As area golf courses begin to open for the season, owners are paying close attention to cost and trying to keep price increases to a minimum.
Stone Hedge Golf Course in Tunkhannock Township. is blessed with electric golf carts, but mowers and other equipment are gas powered.
The course has raised wages in order to find and keep employees, but owners will try not to pass the increased costs onto golfers, said Erika Edwards, general manager.
The council of municipal authorities is also considering afforestation of part of the 545 acres of woods around the course in Bear Creek Township. to make additional income.
Board attorney Don Rogers said the last time the authority did timbering was in 2013 and it was mostly done during the winter so the greens of the course were not damaged by heavy machinery.
McElhattan said the frost just left the ground not too long ago and the courses suffered no damage over the winter.
“White oak seems like a pretty hot thing right now and the prices are really up and we have loads of white oaks there. So, I think it’s time to start and see where we can go with this because we all know it takes quite a bit of time, and then the logistics of getting the wood out is another issue. But, there are a lot of areas up there where the wood could be pulled even when we’re playing,” McElhattan said.
“If there are places we can target that aren’t in play, that could help us generate revenue faster and finish it in the winter months,” he said.
On the advice of Rogers, the council will post bids for a timbering contract, although seeking bids is not necessary as timbering is considered a professional service.
The council will also seek a forester to identify trees that can be cut and manage the process.
McElhattan said Hollenback is open, the greens there have been cut several times and there is a cleanup going on.
He was optimistic the Wilkes-Barre Golf Club will open as soon as next week, depending on how much rain has hit this week.
“Obviously not everything will be done, but the greens will be mowed, the cart paths will be reasonably passable. We’re going to set it up, launch it, and generate revenue,” McElhattan said.
In a telephone interview Friday, Mayor George Brown said he was pleased with the work the authority has done since taking over running the course last year and was also delighted to receive a check for 2,800 $ of authority last week.
The payment is 5% of profits made at Hollenback last year, as specified in a rental agreement.
“It seems to be fair. The key is that we save $100,000 a year without the city exploiting it. This $2,800 is on top of that,” Brown said.