There are some big changes in the works for Calgary’s city-run golf courses.
On Monday, council approved, in principle, scrapping the need for them to make a profit in future and even subsidizing them. Currently, courses have to be self-sufficient and turn a small profit every year.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the courses need some financial help as fewer people use them. Nenshi says green fees can no longer cover the cost of replacing things like irrigation systems and buildings.
"Fewer people are golfing so as a result the revenue has really declined over time," says Nenshi.
"The role of the municipal golf courses in the market tends to be for beginner golfers and people who cannot afford the green fees at private clubs and so on. So, we occupy a special place in the market and if the green fees put it out of reach of many of these people than we have to ask ourselves, why are we in this business at all."Doug Marcelle says he chooses the city-operated Shaganappi Point Golf Course for many reasons, but most importantly the low green fees.
"It’s a great course for seniors, and the younger kids come out. They have good rates for them and it allows them to play. If you get too high, you’re going to see it fall off," says Marcelle.
Meanwhile, Alberta Golf’s Brent Ellenton says he’s surprised that there is a declining number of participants at the city-owned greens.
"The courses we talk to, they're talking about higher participation rates and the fact there was no downtime for weather delays, etc."
The decision on profits was approved, pending budget discussions in November.
Nenshi says council will also look at its golf course fee structure next year but doesn't want to price people out.