Printed on: November 22, 2012

Idaho Falls City Council OKs golf proposals

By Clark Corbin

Members of the Idaho Falls City Council on Tuesday night adopted a five-year business plan designed to return the city's three municipal golf courses to profitability.

In separate action, council members approved a set of fee increases for the 2013 golf season called for in the business plan.

City officials had discussed financial remedies for the golf program for years, but the urgency of the discussion picked up this summer after residents opposing a proposed tax increase said taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize their neighbors' golf games.

Parks and Recreation Director Greg Weitzel, the three golf pros and course staffers crafted the plan over four months this year after studying the courses' financial performance, usage and business practices.

Although the council chambers hearing room was nearly full, only six residents spoke about the plan and fee increases when Mayor Jared Fuhriman opened the floor for comment.

Betty Muir asked city officials why it was necessary to raise golf fees and restructure the business model if other city programs also lose money. She said the fee increases amounted to punishing golfers because the courses lost money.

"My thought is people that golf, most of them are on a fixed income," Muir said. "I think you are going to prevent more of them from golfing ... I just think there will be a time when people can't afford it."

Jack Simonds, president of the Men's Golf Association, offered support for the plan. He said green fees and season passes in Idaho Falls will still be a bargain compared with other municipal courses.

"Nearly all of the members I have spoken with over the course of the past two weeks are in favor of this plan," Simonds said. "They recognize the golf courses need to be more self-sustaining in their business model."

Some of the new fees for 2013 approved Tuesday include:

Increasing adult resident season passes $31 to $585

Increasing nonresident adult season passes $33 to $625

Increasing seniors' five-day season passes $15 to $400

Increasing seniors' seven-day season passes $15 to $500

Increasing residents' nine-hole punch passes for 10 rounds $8 to $135

Increasing residents' 18-hole punch passes for 10 rounds $28 to $198.

Season passes for 2013 went on sale Wednesday under the new rates, Weitzel said. Anybody interested in a pass can call the Pinecrest Golf Course at 612-8485 or visit the clubhouse at 701 E. Elva St.