Archive for Thursday, March 6, 2008

Eagle Bend courts current, future golfers

March 6, 2008


City leaders happy with Eagle Bend finances

For the second year in a row, city leaders are pleased with the finances at the city-owned Eagle Bend Golf Course. Enlarge video

The good news is that 2016 is getting closer by the day.

That's the magic number for the city-owned Eagle Bend Golf Course because it is the year that the facility will be debt-free. A new report shows that Eagle Bend, the 18-hole course below Clinton Lake Dam, is in a position to begin paying for itself once the debt is retired.

In 2007, the course's revenues exceeded expenses by $148,056. In 2006, the course, aided by more favorable weather and construction work that temporarily closed the competing Lawrence Country Club, posted revenues that were $322,000 above expenses.

But the big caveat is that those expenses do not include an annual debt payment of about $287,000. The city pays for that debt out of a separate fund, using revenues from the countywide 1-cent sales tax.

Still, Ernie Shaw, the city's interim director of parks and recreation, thinks the results are encouraging.

"We feel like 2006 and 2007 have been pretty good," Shaw said. "But what we're really trying to do is grow the future."

The course for this season is launching a junior golf program that will allow youths under age 12 to play for free with a paid adult. The program, which is only valid Monday through Friday, is part business, part recreation.

"We want to grow the future of golf at Eagle Bend, but we also want the kids to spend more time with their parents," said John Morris, city golf course supervisor. "We want to do something to get them off the computers and get them back outside."

A second program is aimed at adults. For the first time, the course is offering an all-you-can-play annual pass. For $750, golfers can play as much as they want at the course for a full year. Golfers still have to go through the normal process to secure tee-times, and the pass doesn't cover cart fees. But it does cover use of the driving range, and the pass can be used on both weekdays and weekends.

The hope, Shaw said, is that more avid golfers will adopt Eagle Bend as their home course.

"We just want to see more people on the course," Shaw said. "On weekends, we've always been busy. We're hoping this will generate more business with the after-work crowd and other times during the weekdays."

The 2007 numbers did show a decline from 2006 totals. The course played host to 24,100 rounds in 2007, down from 27,400 in 2006. Course leaders said the reopening of the Lawrence Country Club - which underwent a rebuilding project - and poor weather at the beginning and end of the year hurt the overall numbers.

"We had a really good June and July. Probably our best ever," Morris said. "We were on a good roll until it got really hot in August and September."

The hot conditions took a toll on the course's fairways. The city previously announced that it was converting the No. 1 and No. 10 fairways over to a Zoysia grass, a variety designed to hold up to heat better. If the experiment works, the rest of the course could be converted over time.

The financial performance of the course has been a hot topic at City Hall. When the course was built in 1998, a city-hired consultant predicted the course would pay for itself after a year. But that projection was based on the facility hosting more than 40,000 rounds of golf each season.

City leaders have conceded those projections are no longer realistic given the increase in the number of golf courses in the region. Competition is expected to increase in Lawrence, too. Commissioners recently approved a nine-hole, privately owned golf course that is part of an apartment development in northwest Lawrence, but Eagle Bend leaders are hopeful that the smaller course won't appeal to Eagle Bend's core players.


nedcolt 10 years, 3 months ago

The city hired consultant should give the money back for being a yes man and for just being wrong////////

WHY 10 years, 3 months ago

If the course is paid for by the lawrence public then there should be a discount for Lawrence golfers. And do the revenues go back into the general fund once the loan is paid or will all of the money made be used for improvements.

smot 10 years, 3 months ago

Whether you like the financial status of Eagle Bend or not, this is one fine public golf course and a good value for the golf dollar. Every time that I play there, Lawrence citizens seem to be well represented amongst the players. I cannot understand why a golf course is such a controversial issue in the is the perception that golf is for the wealthy citizenry? If so, please ask your friends and neighbors who are golfers and not wealthy, whether they appreciate Eagle Bend.

Grahambo 10 years, 3 months ago

Love John. Great guy. Good teacher of the game.

The Bend does need alot better chow for the golfers!!!

Alison Roberts 10 years, 3 months ago

$750! Ouch. I know its for a whole year, but that seems a little steep. I'll just stick to paying each time I go out there.

I suppose its a good deal for those who can afford it. But Im a broke, recent college grad... le sigh.

Alison Roberts 10 years, 3 months ago

the people who can afford to pay $750 are not going to pay that much for a public course. They will take their money to Alvamar where they get more benefits for their money.

Marty_McFly 10 years, 3 months ago

I'd start playing there more if they'd add a windmill to putt through and a few other obstacles.

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years, 3 months ago

If the course is paid for by the lawrence public then there should be a discount for Lawrence golfers.

I'd say we're already getting a great deal.

18 holes at Alvamar: $39 ($71 with a 2-man cart) 18 holes at Eagle Bend: $23 ($38 with a 2-man cart)

Eagle Bend is an asset to the community and a great place for family fun. Get those kids away from the X-Box for a few hours and teach them how to swing a golf club. Millions of dollars in golf scholarships go unclaimed every year. Something to think about.

Lindsey Buscher 10 years, 3 months ago

good god! @ $23 per round you would have to play 32 rounds for that year-round pass to pay for itself. I like Eagle Bend a lot, but i am lucky if i can get out 12 times a year, and even then i like to go to a few different locales. I wonder, do they have any other deals for buying golf in bulk?

institches 10 years, 3 months ago

Still a good value for golf time, but I wonder, now that the city has approved ANOTHER golf course at 6th and WAK, how many golfers will go there instead of EB... how many golf courses does one town need? What was the commission thinking when they approved a new course when EB is struggling?

I agree .. good food will be a real plus out there.

kansas778 10 years, 3 months ago

Of course if you only golf a dozen or so times, a year-long pass wouldn't make sense. For someone who is retired who likes to golf two or three times a week that would be a pretty good deal.

d_prowess 10 years, 3 months ago

I think Eagle Bend is a great course for the community and am encouraged to see them trying to boost use, while also encouraging kids to get outside. This seems like a win-win for the course, parents, and kids within the community.
A lot people bash the city and its programs (and sometimes rightfully so), but I wish we would recognize a good idea with as much passion.

cingham 10 years, 3 months ago

Puggy They do have 10 round and 20 round cards for those who don't want to pay for the yearly membership.

meburr 10 years, 3 months ago

Institches - are you and I the only ones who see a problem bringing in a new course just down the road from Eagle Bend???? The golfing industry as a whole is on a downward slope. It goes in cycles. It doesn't take a genius to see the JW headlines 6 months after the new course opens "Eagle Bend in Financial Cardiac Arrest"

meburr 10 years, 3 months ago

you think btch btch b*tch, talk to me after your taxes go up to cover the city's expenses! Common sense folks!

d_prowess 10 years, 3 months ago

I don't want this to sound like I am saying having a resturant out at the golf course is a bad idea, because maybe some people would go there. But as for just myself and my wife, who eat out at least 4 times a week in Lawrence, I don't think we would ever drive out there for dinner.

daddax98 10 years, 3 months ago

"good god! @ $23 per round you would have to play 32 rounds for that year-round pass to pay for itself"

actually when you include the value of the seson long range pass ($300) you only have to play 19 rounds

daddax98 10 years, 3 months ago

plus I heared that alvamar is closing its public course that should drive up traffic at EB

ramsrevenge 10 years, 3 months ago

Eagle Bend one year membership: $750/year, $62.50/month.

Alvamar (if you sign up w/friend): $200/month + mandatory $50 in dining at alvamar. $3000/year.

I'd say Eagle Bend is well worth it! And please do not complain about eagle bend unless you've played more than 1 round out there. The fees out there are very reasonable and the course is fun to play!

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

institches wrote: "What was the commission thinking when they approved a new course when EB is struggling?"

When the city built Eagle Bend, they created unfair competition with the existing privately owned golf courses.

Now you think the city should not allow a new private golf course on the basis it might compete with Eagle Bend?

If the city has to "market" a service to drive users to it, then it is obvious the service wasn't needed in the first place; just like with the "T," and the same as it will be with curb-side recycyling.

Bob Forer 10 years, 3 months ago

I'd like to see the City of Lawrence offer several levels of golf lessons, in order to encourage working class kids and novice adults to take up the game. Once they have sucessfully "passed" an intermediate level class (e.g., score 60 or under for nine), then they should be offered deep discounts for a period of time at the golf course to improve their game. Golf is a wonderful game. Unfortuantely, and unlike many sports, it is both difficult and time consuming to obtain an enjoyable level of proficiency. That simple fact, as well as the expense involved in obtaining a minimal level of proficiency is why it has retained its image as a sport for the wealthy.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

Is the rate on the Eagle Bend bond fixed, or is it auction rate? Anyone know?

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

$297,000 bond payments funded by sales tax, not by fees, and free water worth who knows how much?

Not to mention, free land.

How many rounds of golf at $23 per round would it take just to break even if this were a for-profit venture?

Better yet, what rate would need to be charged for the actual number of rounds played, since inception, would it take to be current?

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