‘Use it or lose it’: Municipal Golf Course may see lower fees

Thunder Bay city council will decide Monday night if it should approve lower fees for the Rosslyn Road golf course.

Thunder Bay golf course needs to see usage increase of 60% to make venture sustainable

Thunder Bay city council will decide Monday night if it should approve lower fees for the city’s Rosslyn Road golf course.

Supporters said the move may attract enough golfers to save Municipal Golf Course from closure, but city administration said there's no evidence that lowering prices will bring in enough business.

Golf courses on the chopping block

— May 2012, council passes resolution to accept city administration's core business review that called for the divestiture and closure of Municipal Golf Course.

— September 2012, Councillor Andrew Foulds proposes the creation of the golf advisory committee, which would examine Municipal Golf Course and provide options that council would vote on to make it more sustainable.

— Resolution passed in October 2012. Committee requests fee reductions.

— Proposed Municipal Golf Course fee reductions: Reduce cost to play nine holes from $30 to $25.50; Reduce cost to play 18 holes from $36 to $31; Reduce annual seniors’ pass from $990 to $800.

— The committee wants to create a $900 annual adult pass for Municipal Golf Course only. Currently, players have to buy a full pass that gives access to all three city golf courses — which can range in price from $1,200 to $1,520, depending on age.

— Committee also proposes the city's communications division markets Municipal golf course "aggressively."

— Administration says, for the proposed reduced rates at Municipal to work and make the course sustainable, it would have to see an increase in usage of 60 per cent.

"If the competing golf courses lower their fees too, then it's really exactly where we were before, and all we've done is lost a whole bunch of revenue," said Greg Alexander, general manager of community and emergency services.

"So we think, as administration, [the] risk is very high."

Administration wants to keep Municipal Golf Course's fees the same this year, then close it next year.

That doesn’t make sense to the city's golf advisory committee, which said the city's three courses brought in the most money six years ago — when they cost less to use.

Councillor Linda Rydholm, who sits on the committee, said she wants to see Municipal's rates rolled back.

"That golf course is geared to beginners and seniors," she said.

"So looking back in history, it seemed that it did very well when the fees were somewhat lower."

Rydholm added golfers have told her they would use the course if it cost less to play there.

But Alexander countered, "It's a shot, we haven't tried this before, so we could be wrong … our estimation is that would just be a windfall for golfers, and not necessarily bring a lot of new golfers to Municipal."

The chair of the city’s Golf Advisory Committee, Mayor Keith Hobbs, said if council agrees to the rate decrease, the course's survival then rests with the golfing community.

"If people are that adamant that they think that course is viable and can be viable and that we should save it, then … I'm going to challenge them to use it or lose it," he said, "plain and simple."