WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – As of April, golfers in Wichita may see changes to some local courses. The city’s public courtyards may soon be under the control of a private company. It was an option that the Wichita Park Board expired in a meeting on Monday. The board’s decision has left some Wichita golfers uncertain about the future.
The Wichita City Council will have the final say, the park board voted to hand over management of Wichita’s public courses to KemperSports out of Illinois. The company manages more than 150 golf courses across the United States. This includes a mix of public and private clubs, including Newton’s Sand Creek resort.
The city of Wichita, concerned about losing public school money, hopes turning to professionals will help turn the tide.
“We see this as what’s best for Wichita. Over the last 20 years, outside of the last two years with the COVID boom, golf has gone into decline,” said Wichita Park Chairman of the Board, Eddie Fahenestock. “I think it’s important that we turn to a professional from KemperSports.
The deal includes a $200,000 annual fee paid to the Illinois-based company to run the courses. This includes some potential course renovations.
The decision to move to private control has some Wichita golfers worried. They believe that the courses are as they are.
“Ninety-nine percent of public golfers in Wichita oppose it,” said Wichita golfer Dale Goter. “The group that is in favor of it does not play golf. Well, that jeopardizes the sustainability of our golf system. IT must be maintained; it needs to be taken care of. What happens here is that we give the keys to the car to a private management company. In five years, when they decide to leave, they will have withdrawn $5 million ($5 million) and they don’t care what happens after that.
If the Wichita City Council approves the decision to transfer the city’s public golf courses to private company control, the park board clarified that KemperSports would only manage the courses and the city would still own and take final decisions on green fee pricing. At its March 1 meeting, the Wichita City Council will vote on the decision.
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