A majority of Rochester City Council said Monday it was ready to consider changing or closing any of the city’s four municipal golf courses, but most are not ready to say which one.
“We just can’t do it all,” said Board Chair Brooke Carlson of recommendations to fund $ 3.6 million for golf course upgrades and more staff. interview.
“It’s just not something we can do as a city of this size,” she added.
The proposed five-year improvements are part of a report by the National Golf Foundation, which the city contracted to evaluate its operations.
“The city of Rochester is in the golf business, and it’s a tough business to do,” said the foundation’s Richard Singer as he presented the report to city council and park council.
The results offered a variety of suggestions, including upgrading the technology to deal with maintenance delays. Singer said they aimed to attract more golfers to what the foundation sees as an abundance of courses.
He said a typical success ratio is 4,000 golfers per 18 holes, but Rochester has about 1,242 par 18 holes.
While a course closure was offered as an option, Singer focused on alternatives to attract more participants, which could possibly include upgrading the Soldiers Field golf course or replacing it with a 9-hour option. holes. Either way, he suggested the city take the time to explore the options.
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said she would oppose the closure of the course, which sees more rounds of golf played than the city’s other course and is considered more accessible to older residents and visiting patients who may face limitations.
“I support a golf course on Soldiers Field and I will fight for it to the end,” she said, noting that the town had four courses when the population was 70,000 and that census figures show that the city has nearly 120,000 inhabitants with an expected growth which should be sufficient. to support golf in the future.
Council members Shaun Palmer and Mark Bransford agreed, but other council members said it was too early to take such a position.
“I think there is a lot to understand here,” said Council member Nick Campion, stressing the need to determine how the city would fund future operations, as golfing revenues can vary from year to year. other.
Park board chairwoman Linnea Archer agreed, stressing the likelihood of having to make tough decisions.
“If we look at the facts, we don’t have enough golfers to afford four courses,” she said.
Campion and others have said it is too early to focus on removing or changing a specific course, despite details from the foundation’s report on the potential savings if the Soldiers Field course is closed.
“I don’t want to choose a specific course at this point,” he said.
Council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick said she would like to see the focus on finding innovative ways to organize the city’s classes, but also suggested a specific reduction.
“I think it should be Hadely Creek,” she said, pointing to the 9-hole golf course with plenty of training equipment, which has traditionally seen the fewest games played in a season.
Singer called Hadley Creek a “loss leader” because of its ability to train new generations of golfers through specialized youth programs, but Kirkpatrick suggested such programs could be added to the other three courses in the golf course. the city.
Although council members offered different approaches to consider, they agreed to move forward looking for ways to improve golf operations.
“This process will take some time,” said Deputy City Manager Aaron Parrish, describing the planned efforts. “It’s not something that is going to happen quickly.”
He suggested investigating whether residents enjoy golfing amenities as the city continues to examine potential changes to Soldiers Field.
The outlined process will keep the city’s four golf courses operational this year, with the possibility of a recommendation to the park council by year-end and a final council decision by January 15, 2023.