By Katy Savage
Brown Golf Regional Manager Justin Stezin reported a loss at Green Mountain National this year.
Revenue at the golf course totaled $943,285 through October, which is down from last year’s gross revenue of $1,009,907.
Stezin attributed part of the loss to the rounds of golf in October, which dropped by about half. Last year, there were 1,900 rounds of golf in October, he said, compared to 846 this year. There were a total of 14,762 rounds played through October. Last year there were 15,433 rounds played.
Stezin said heavy rain and cold weather made playing conditions unfavorable.
“Unfortunately, that can happen in the golf industry,” Stezin said as he presented finances to the Select Board Nov. 5.
Brown Golf took over management of the golf course in April under a three-year contract for $114,000 per year.
Just before the contract, the town lent $250,000 to the pro shop in April so the course could open on time this season.
“It was a bumpy transition in May,” Stezin said.
There was personnel turnover as well, with David Bowyer taking over as the pro.
Though there appears to be a significant loss in the budget, Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth said about $90,000 of the reported loss was due to a difference in accounting systems and previously unpaid insurance expenses.
Though the rounds are down, the average round of golf in 2018 year cost players $42, which was about $1.25 higher than the year before, Stezin said.
“As a whole, I think it was a good year,” Stezin said.
However, Stezin also said the golf course needs about $1.5 million worth of upgrades in the next five years to continue operating.
He said the course needs a new irrigation system, which could cost $1 million.
“It’s one of the most important pieces of your golf course. Without it, you can’t water [the course],” Stezin said.
Stezin also recommended replacing all 70 gas-powered golf carts.
“What concerns me is the brakes and tires at this point,” he said. “I almost think they are becoming close to a health hazard.”
He estimates the replacement cost for the carts would be $322,854. The course also needs a new beverage cart, which will cost $300 per month to lease or $15,000 to purchase. A new roof is also needed on several of the buildings.
Stezin said Brown Golf was focusing on marketing efforts this winter to make the course’s attendance grow. Stezin also wanted to make improvements to the food and beverage offerings and refurbish the patio to make Green Mountain National more inviting.
It was unclear how Brown Golf would pay for the delayed maintenance and improvement costs. The town-owned golf course was set up to pay for its own expenses. But the course has long struggled financially, partly due to management issues, which has caused taxpayers to pick up the costs.
The Select Board was expected to finalize a plan for the budget for the golf course in December. Town Manger Chet Hagenbarth was unsure how the upgrades would be paid.