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Director: Give golf course a chance

May take time for Gainesville to receive revenue from $3 million renovation, improvements

POSTED: February 12, 2008 5:03 a.m.

GAINESVILLE — The director of golf for Gainesville’s municipal golf course assured City Council members the money they are investing in the Chattahoochee Golf Course is not going down the hole.

Mark Bowen, director of golf for the Chattahoochee Golf Course, told council members Thursday that they may not be seeing revenue from the golf course right now, but he promised that the grass will get greener in the future.

Bowen said the sport is currently on the downswing of what the golf community calls the "Tiger Woods effect" — an explanation of the peak in golf interest that happened in the 1990s, but has slowed down in recent years.

"The one thing that’s happened in our market nationwide is the supply of golf courses is more than the demand," Bowen said. "That’s probably going to change in the next five years."

Bowen said it should take a while before council members start seeing revenue from the city’s investments in the golf course. In 2006, the city spent nearly $3 million and a year renovating the 50-year-old course, which reopened last January.

Bowen told the council of measures he and other golf course officials were taking to increase golf course participation. He said he has identified the golf course’s customer base, 30 percent of whom are responsible for 80 percent of the rounds played on the course.

Bowen said he intends to embrace the course’s customers by holding more tournaments. The course is also taking measures to improve customer service by starting a bag service and cut costs by using a prison work detail five days a week.

"We have a lot of reason to be optimistic ... growth is coming," Bowen said. "We’re pretty confident."

But right now, City Council members will have to wait while the course plays a few slow rounds.

The Chattahoochee Golf Course will most likely not reach its expected goal of 34,000 rounds for the year, Bowen said. He attributed the fewer rounds to the winter weather conditions.

"Winter presents a challenge for golf," said Bowen.


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