County courses see increase in golfers despite weather

Official says conditions were even worse last year when rain, snow were blamed for record-low revenues
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

Despite the wet, cold weather so far this spring, the two Ozaukee County-owned golf courses have been busier this year than at this time in 2018, data shows.

That’s partly because the weather was even worse in 2018, county Parks Director Andrew Struck told the Natural Resources Committee last week.

“Last year, the courses weren’t even open until mid-April,” Struck said.

But officials hope the good start will continue with some changes in place, especially in delivering service to golfers.

While rain and even snow have inundated the area at times, 2,889 golfers hit the links at Mee-Kwon and Hawthorne Hills county golf courses, up 553 from a year ago since they opened on March 27 and April 2, respectively, generating $71,947 in revenue, up $11,267.

The uptick is welcome news after 2018 usage and receipts were down severely when there were only 54,622 rounds of golf compared to 62,744 in 2017 and 67,846 in 2016.

Total revenue, consequently, was less than $1.612 million, the lowest on record.

Besides the wetter-than-usual weather, at the start, the 2018 season also closed earlier, on Nov. 6, the earliest since 2014 and making it the shortest golf season on record. Compared to an average year, Hawthorne Hills was open 38 fewer days and Mee-Kwon was open 26 fewer. And the wet conditions made it impossible to offer golf carts on 31 days.

Revenues also were hindered by the lack of a liquor license until June 1 at Hawthorne Hills and often lax on-course service, Struck said in a report. 

A $1 increase in fees helped mitigate losses.

The revenue goal for 2019 is $1.888 million, based on a five-year average number of 65,000 rounds of golf. 

The golf courses are self-supporting and not subsidized by taxpayers but contribute to the county’s general operations in lieu of taxes.
The county has instituted a number of changes in course amenities for the new year.

Those changes include making it possible to purchase discount cards and gift certificates online, a new concessionaire and liquor license, improved on-course service, increased marketing.

Future plans include increasing attention to league play.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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