by Joni Astrup
Rounds of golf played this season at Pinewood in Elk River are up significantly
over a year ago, thanks to a warm and early spring.
Pinewood opened on March 15 this year. In 2011 the course wasn’t able to open until April 12, due to a long winter and cold spring, according to Pinewood Golf Course Superintendent Paul Anderson.
“We’re off to a really good start this year,” he said.
There have been 5,414 rounds of golf played at Pinewood through July 12, compared to 3,656 for the same period a year ago.
Year-to-date green fees are up from $38,444 last year to $52,057 this year.
The city purchased the golf course in 2006 after a developer threatened to build homes on it. The nine-hole course is open to the public and located at 18150 Waco St.
In a recent City Council budget work session, Anderson told the council his goals for 2013 are:
•increase rounds of golf
•maintain or increase participation in Pinewood’s programs such as youth leagues and lessons and adult leagues
•improve cash flow
The course has operated in the red. It had a net loss of $48,647 in 2011. But the course’s overall financial condition has been improving, with transfers from the city’s general fund to balance Pinewood’s budget decreasing over time.
“Paul’s done an excellent job of reining in expenses,” Council Member Nick Zerwas said.
Anderson said they have a lot of ideas to try to improve the bottom line including promoting group outings for businesses. They also are selling some different merchandise in the club house this year.
But weather, of course, plays a major role in how well the course does in a given year.
“It’s a weather-dictated business,” Anderson said.
Mayor John Dietz said it appears the only way to get to a break-even point in the golf course business is to generate more revenue.
“There’s not really much you can cut, is there, in a golf course operation?” Dietz asked Anderson.
“It’s pretty slim right now,” Anderson replied.
Dietz told him he does an excellent job maintaining the course and said it looks in great shape
“We’re trying our best to not only maintain the golf course but to try make improvements through creativity and resources that we own in the city,” Anderson told the council.