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Golf course still trying to reach the green
Chattahoochee revenues down, carts wearing out, but director wants less in city funds
Darren Chandler prepares to hop in a golf cart and head out for a round of golf Tuesday at the Chattahoochee Golf Course. The course needs a new fleet of golf carts, but revenues are still declining. - photo by Tom Reed

For consecutive years now, revenues at the Chattahoochee Golf Course have declined.

But Rodger Hogan, director of golf at the Gainesville-owned course, is looking to change that and reduce the golf course’s reliance on city tax dollars, he told the City Council on Tuesday.

The golf course hasn’t made a profit since a major renovation in 2006. The city spent nearly $3 million rebuilding the 50-year-old course, which reopened January 2007 after a year of work.

The intent was to make the course more competitive and profitable, but city officials still are waiting to reap the rewards.

A proposed budget plan for the course in the next fiscal year shows a 7.7 percent increase in revenues and expenditures. Hogan, who has been with the city for barely a year, has plans to increase the number of tournaments held at the course in the upcoming fiscal year.

A budget proposal he presented to the City Council also showed a 49 percent reduction in the money the course has been receiving from the city’s general fund, which is filled mainly by property and sales tax revenues meant for general government operations.

In the current fiscal year, the golf course used more than $215,000 of general fund dollars to support its $1.19 million operation.

Hogan’s proposal for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1, calls for a smaller transfer from the general fund — $110,195 — to support a $1.28 million operation.

But Hogan says the golf course also needs costly new equipment, which might need to be financed. Hogan told council members the course soon must replace its current fleet of golf carts, which is nearly 4 years old.

The average life expectancy for such equipment is three years, he said. Already, batteries are failing in the current carts and cost about $500 to replace. Many of the carts need new tires at about $100 per cart, Hogan said.

“We’ve started having golf carts going down on the course, which is not what we want — golfers calling in on (hole) 13 or 14 saying ‘my cart’s dead, bring me another cart,’” Hogan said.

The city could either lease or purchase the new golf carts, but Administrative Services Director Melody Marlowe says that either way, the city will need to finance them.

Leasing the carts could tie the city to one company, Hogan said. The cost to buy 61 new golf carts would be about $222,650, using one of the estimates Hogan said he has received.

City budget discussions continue Thursday with proposals coming from the city’s Public Utilities Department and its Solid Waste Division.