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Hagerstown considers raising golf course fees

November 15, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — The price to play golf at Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run could rise in 2012.

The Hagerstown City Council will vote next week on a proposal  to increase fees at the city-owned golf course between 50 cents and $4 per round and between $40 and $55 for season passes.

Under the proposal from city officials, cart rentals would also increase between 75 cents and $3 per person.

The city has been actively seeking to reduce the course’s dependence on an interfund subsidy while also improving its viability.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue said Tuesday during a council work session that the city annually subsidizes the course from its general fund, a payment that came to $225,000 in fiscal 2010-11, according to current city budget documents.

Based on the number of rounds played in a year, taxpayers contribute approximately $20.82 to every round of golf played at the course, he said.

Currently, a round of nine holes at the course costs between $7.50 and $13, depending on the time of play and the age of the player.

Councilman Forrest W. Easton said it was alarming that the city is subsidizing each round of golf played at the course to the tune of more than $20.

City staff has worked to reduce expenses at the course to help reduce the annual general fund transfer, Tissue said.

Starting this winter, when the weather gets bad, the course will close until the weather improves again, likely in March, he said previously.

In addition, the city plans to start offering limited concessions at the course clubhouse, which it will use unspent bond proceeds to improve.

Raising the rates should help further reduce the subsidy, he said.

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Compared to six other local public golf courses, the city is among the lowest. If increased, city fees would be near the middle of the pack.

Under the new proposed rate structure, the city would do away with season passes for noncity residents, Tissue said.  Those golfers would be eligible for discounted rates through the city’s coupon book.

Each coupon book offers nine, nine-hole rounds for $60 or $6.67 per round; for seniors it costs $50 or $5.56 per round.

In 2011, the city sold 18 nonresident season passes and three senior nonresident passes, compared to six resident passes and four senior resident passes, city documents said.

Most pass holders play at least 75 rounds of golf a year, some more, making their average round rate between $3 and $5, the documents said. The city sold 24 regular coupon books and 30 senior coupon books.

Easton said that if the theory that the city will sell coupon books to those nonresident season pass holders isn’t borne out, the city’s subsidy could increase per round.  He noted that for those golfers the change would approximately double their per-round rate, a substantial increase.

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood said the city should base its decision to raise rates on more than the prices of comparable courses.  Haywood said she could not vote for the measure until more is presented to support the argument that the change will be an overall benefit not a detriment.

Councilman Martin Brubaker said the city will see what happens once it raises the rates.

If raised, the rates would be effective starting Jan. 1, city documents said.

Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run
Current rates
Regular nine holes: $9
Senior nine holes: $8
Regular 18 holes: $12
Senior 18 holes: $10
Twilight: $7.50
Weekends and holiday nine holes: $13
Weekends and holiday 18 holes: $13
Resident season pass: $370
Senior resident season pass: $260
Nonresident season pass: $395
Senior nonresident season pass: $270

Proposed rates
Regular nine holes: $11
Senior nine holes: $9
Regular 18 holes: $14
Senior 18 holes: $12
Twilight: $8
Weekends and holiday nine holes: $14
Weekends and holiday 18 holes: $17
Resident season pass: $425
Senior resident season pass: $300
Nonresident season pass: n/a
Senior nonresident season pass: n/a

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