It's the golfing equivalent of throwing away the scorecard.
After receiving the latest news of financial losses at the city-owned Eagle Bend Golf Course, administrators doubt the course can pay its own way.
"While the course had a couple of good financial years, it doesn't look like over time it will pay for its operations," City Manager Mike Wildgen said. "But that's the way it works with a lot of facilities. We wouldn't have been able to build the Indoor Aquatics Center if we said it had to pay for itself."
The course lost $57,158 in 2005, according to a new year-end financial report.
The loss continues the trend of Eagle Bend losing money in all but two years since it opened in 1998.
In the future, determining whether it makes or loses money won't be so easy. Wildgen is planning to move the golf course from its own fund within the city's budget in 2007 into the budget's broader recreation fund, the one that pays for parks, pools and other recreation facilities that generate more expenses than revenues.
Wildgen said the move hopefully would allow taxpayers to begin thinking of Eagle Bend more like an amenity than a business.
The finances of Eagle Bend have drawn particular scrutiny from the public because city commissioners in the mid-1990s were told by consultants that the new course would attract enough green fees to pay for itself.
Fred DeVictor, the city's director of parks and recreation, said meeting those projections has been difficult as more courses have been built in the Kansas City area, and also because golf has suffered an industrywide downturn since the go-go '90s.
"There's a lot more competition out there, and you can only cut the pie so many ways," DeVictor said.
Ed White, owner of the Orchards Golf Course, 3000 Bob Billings Parkway, said it was sad that the situation had come to this.
"It seems like I remember telling them that it wouldn't make any money when they were thinking about building it," White said. "It was just a no-brainer that it wasn't going to make any money. The number of people just weren't here, and now the city is just stuck with it."
DeVictor said he favors the course being wrapped in his department's broader budget. He said it was appropriate because the course, much like a park or a recreation center, adds to the quality of life.
"I definitely think it is providing a value to the community," DeVictor said.
He also said the budgeting change would not affect the department's efforts to run the course in a financially efficient manner. DeVictor already has made some changes to improve the course's bottom line. Eagle Bend in 2005 operated with one fewer full-time employee, not filling a vacant clubhouse worker position. The course's superintendent also has begun overseeing maintenance of other athletic fields operated by Parks and Recreation. That allows part of his salary to be paid from non-golf course revenues.
The results have been encouraging. The $57,000 operating loss actually was a major improvement over the $157,000 loss from 2004 and the $107,000 loss in 2003. The course last year also benefited from other area courses being closed for repairs.