Troubled golf course looking at new rates

Higher rates may be on the horizon for Eagle Valley Golf Course.

A recent report done for Carson City and the Carson City Municipal Golf Corp. says in order for the golf course to become financially stable, the rate system must be changed.

Not only are golf course officials looking to increase revenues with a rate change, they're also looking at ways to repair the faulty irrigation system on the west golf course - repairs which are estimated to cost up to $1.6 million.

Owned by Carson City, the golf course was turned over to nonprofit corporation management in August 1997.

Mark Sattler, chairman of the golf corporation, said golf board members will meet today to discuss rate restructuring. How much the rates will change hasn't been decided. However, changes may be made to the course's punch card and annual pass system.

"The entire rate structure has been under review and continues to be under review," said City Manager John Berkich. "It is probable some adjustments will be made to enable the golf corporation to provide well-maintained courses."

If the corporation board members agree to a rate change, it will more than likely have to be approved by the city's Board of Supervisors.

Golfers pay $22 to walk and play on the east course and $37.50 to walk and play on the more difficult west course.

Sattler and golf course General Manager Mike McGehee said the rate restructuring is a matter of survival for the financially-struggling golf course. They hope a bump in the rates will allow them to buy new equipment and hire new staff to help with the burgeoning maintenance concerns.

"It's got to the point the property has to be improved," McGehee said. "When you buy a new home, you have to make improvements. There are continuing needs on (the east and west courses.) It's hard to implement a long-term plan when you're in survival mode."

Sattler and McGehee said the report contained no news they haven't already told city officials.

The report from Sherman Golf Associates cost the city and the golf corporation $9,000. The report delineates several points of concern for the golf course including:

-- The west golf course is in dire need of improvements, primarily an irrigation system.

-- Eagle Valley has had severe losses of play and income over the past three years with the opening of seven new courses in the area.

-- The current policy regarding season passes has caused a loss of income.

The report recommends closing the west course for a year while improvements are made, although McGehee said that is economically impossible to do.

The report said even with increased competition, the golf course could become more economically stable with improvements. It also recommends that the city adopt a master plan for improvements to both the west and east courses.

"We're just caretakers of a piece of property," McGehee said. "The decisions (on capital improvements) have to come from the city."

A recently completed study on the west course irrigation system said it would take about $1.6 million to fix the system. Berkich said repairing the system "is critical to the infrastructure."

He said the city has found a way to fix it for about $500,000. However, no information was available Friday on how and when the city would or could fund the repairs.

"We have some hard decisions to make," Sattler said. "The (west) course looks good right now because of a lot of hard work. It looks as good as it ever has, but the system could blow out of the ground tomorrow.

"We can keep it going and running, but how long is the question. You don't buy a new car and never change the oil. Our contract is that capital improvements have to be approved by the city."


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