Revenues and the number of golfers hitting the links continue to decrease at Birmingham's two golf courses, according to the 2012 Golf Report as presented to the Birmingham City Commission on Monday night.
According to Assistant Director of Public Services Jeff Bremer, the number of rounds of golf played at the Springdale Golf Course and Lincoln Hills Golf Course in 2011 dropped 11.72 percent from the previous year.
This translates into an operating deficit of $146,122 for both courses in 2011, up considerably from 2010's deficit of $81,471.
"I wish I could be here with better news but unfortunately, I can not say anything but we lost money in 2011," Bremer said. "We're at a loss to really understand how, in one season, we lost (almost) 6,000 rounds."
Overall, there were 41,593 rounds played at both courses in 2011, down 5,524 rounds from the 2010 figure, 47,177.
The biggest decrease in rounds happened in March and April 2011, Bremer said. There was an 83 percent drop in rounds played in March 2011 and a 44 percent drop in April — a drop Bremer said can be attributed to last year's very wet and cold spring.
Efforts to attract golfers in 2012
As to why the golf courses continue to experience decreasing traffic and revenue, Bremer said there are a number of potential factors, from the drop in adult resident memberships to a declining interest in golf.
Both golf courses have made strides toward attracting golfers and increasing revenues and rounds played this year and last. In recent months, the courses applied for a Class C liquor license in order to sell beer and wine at their clubhouses. The golf courses also lowered their nonresident fees for 2012 and implemented an online reservation system through ActiveGolf.
"Whether the rounds will come back, I don't know," Bremer said. "... But all of those elements that would bring people back to the courses are in place."
Commissioner Rackeline Hoff noted there has been a downward trend in golf course revenue since 2008. However, Commissioner Gordon Rinschler said the apparent loss in revenue was a victim of the city's accounting system.
Rinschler said the city should think of the golf courses as part of their park system and not be over-focused on numbers during a time when municipal revenue has been down across the board.
"I think this is a good plan, I think we should stick with it," Rinschler said. "If we see the golf market collapsing then that's a different story. But it's going to have to be a lot worse."
Other highlights from the 2012 Golf Report include:
- Total expenditures for Lincoln Hills in 2011 were $626,739. Revenues were $522,183.
- Total expenditures for Springdale in 2011 were $426,679. Revenues were $365,113.
- Lincoln Hills performed slightly better in 2011 than it did in 2010, with 590 more rounds for a total of 21,925 rounds played. This, however, was 6,000 fewer rounds than was projected for the year.
- Since 2003, the best year for Lincoln Hills was 2004, when there 31,401 rounds played.
- "Overall, Springdale performed miserably in 2011 compared to 2010," the report reads. Springdale had 19,668 rounds played in 2011, compared to 25,782 in 2010.
- Since 2003, the best year for Springdale was 2005, when there were 28,560 rounds played.
- The most popular month for golf in 2011 was August, with 4,289 rounds played at both courses. The least popular months are January and February.
- Staffing at the golf courses have only recently changed, with the Golf Operations Manager splitting into two positions: Clubhouse Manager and Greenskeeping Manager. There are also plans to create a merchandising coordinator for food and merchandise sales at the courses.