Everett wants input on golf course fees

  • Mon Jul 12th, 2010 9:39pm
  • News

By Debra Smith Herald Writer

EVERETT — The city wants to know what local golfers think about higher green fees at its two golf courses, Walter E. Hall and Legion Memorial.

The public may weigh in at the Parks Board meeting set for 6 p.m. tonight at Spruce Hall at Forest Park, 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd.

Both courses offer various prices based on time, the season and the age of the golfer. Officials propose raising just about all single rounds of golf at both courses by a buck or two.

For instance, the cost of one weekend 18-hole round would go from $29 to $32 at Walter Hall and from $35 to $36 at Legion. Those are the prices for adults during the peak season, which runs from March to November.

Discounts for buying frequent play cards will drop, too. Instead of buying 40 rounds, golfers would buy 30 and receive a 15 percent discount instead of 20 percent off.

The city reviews green fees — and usually nudges them up — at its two public courses every year to make sure the courses earn enough to support themselves and stay competitive, said Lori Cummings, assistant director for Everett Parks &Recreation.

The city conducted a competitive analysis that included comparisons of Everett’s courses and others in the region based on price, location and other measures, such as maintenance.

For many golfers, how a ball rolls on the green may dictate where they choose to play, she said.

No tax dollars go toward supporting the city’s golf courses, she said. It cost $3.8 million to run both courses last year and they took in $46,000 above expenses. That money was reinvested in the golf courses, she said.

It wasn’t always that way. Until 2009, the courses had lost money for years. In 2006, the courses lost a combined $500,000.

Partly, the problem was the way the courses were being run. It also was difficult to generate a surplus because the city took on $6.1 million in debt to improve Legion’s course in 1997 and another $1.7 million to renovate that course’s restaurant and pro shop in 1998.

In 2007, the city hired a new management company, Premier Golf Centers, and negotiated a contract that rewarded the management company for upping the rounds of golf played and boosting the money made from course restaurants and pro shops. It worked.

Last year, golfers played 130,000 rounds of golf at both courses combined.

Janice Trout of Mill Creek, an avid golfer for decades, doesn’t mind the proposed changes. She enjoys golfing at Walter Hall, which is plenty challenging and closer to her house than Legion, she said.

“I think the bottom line is if they feel the need to increase the rates they should,” she said. “Everything has gone up. Most of us would still continue to play as long as it isn’t exorbitant.”

The parks director makes the final decision on green fees. If approved, they would take effect at the start of the off-peak season Nov. 1.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

Have a say on golf fees

The public may weigh in on proposed golf rate hikes at the Parks Board meeting set for 6 p.m. tonight at Spruce Hall at Forest Park, 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd.

Learn more about the proposed changes online at www.everettwa.org/golf.

Submit comments or ask questions by contacting manager Gary Sayre at gsayre@ci.everett.wa.us or 425-257-8351.