After many years operating out of the rough, business at the city-owned Chattahoochee Golf Club is picking up and back on the fairway.
Golfers teed off for 27,125 rounds in 2016 at the lush 18-hole course, and play this year at the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed layout is ahead of last year’s pace by 425 rounds.
The upward trajectory in rounds played over the past few years is welcome news for Rodger Hogan, a veteran PGA pro who’s been in charge of the Chattahoochee Golf Club for the past eight years. Hogan has seen his share of lean years and is now the beneficiary of golf’s resurgence in Gainesville.
Acknowledging the uptick in business, City Council voted this week to approve a position for an assistant pro at the club in the current budget. The job opening will soon be posted for a period of two weeks by the city, and Hogan will select an assistant from qualified applicants.
The position will pay $31,657 plus benefits, according to city officials.
Shortly after taking over as golf pro at CGC in the spring of 2009, Hogan and other city managers got word that they had to make cuts in their budgets.
“We had an assistant pro, but that’s when the economy tanked,” Hogan said. “We eliminated four positions, including the assistant pro.”
Since then, Hogan and golf course superintendent Sheldon Foote were called on to shoulder more duties and responsibilities.
The city-owned facility is unique in that the public course also is used by the exclusive Chattahoochee Country Club located a short distance away.
Hogan said the the country club has a 10-year agreement for its members to use the golf course.
“The club pays green fees and for the golf cart,” Hogan said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Upon entering the Chattahoochee Golf Club, there are notable reminders that it is the home course of 1973 Masters champion Tommy Aaron. The entrance to the golf course is called Tommy Aaron Drive, and the champ has a parking spot reserved for him at the clubhouse.
“He still plays here three to four times a week,” Hogan said.
Aaron lives in a home that oversees the par-5 sixth hole.
The course opened in 1960 and underwent a multimillion dollar renovation in 2006 that included new greens, bunkers, additional fairway drainage, cement cart paths and fleet of electric carts. The course closed for a year during renovations and re-opened for business as the Great Recession started taking hold.
Although the course is considered to be a money-making enterprise fund, it is still paying for the renovations.
In rolling out the proposed city budget last week, City Manager Bryan Lackey said the general fund is subsidizing the golf course’s debt obligation to the tune of $229,311 in the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget that would go into effect July 1.
“Without the debt service, we would be profitable,” Hogan said.