County wishes for a mulligan as golf course revenue hits low

Weather, societal trend blamed for another bad year on public courses
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

Usage and subsequent revenue from Ozaukee County’s two golf courses hit a 10-year low at the end of September thanks to a wetter-than-usual year and a continuing general decline in the sport.

According to figures submitted to supervisors, the number of golfers was down about 12% through September from the first three quarters of 2017, from 57,760 to 50,881 golfers at Hawthorne Hills and Mee-Kwon courses.

Cash receipts also dropped at the two courses, the county collecting almost $1.43 million through the first nine months of this year compared to almost $1.54 million in 2017.

The month of September especially saw a severe drop from the year before with only 6,740 golfers coming out to the two courses, compared to 9,034 in September 2017.

“We were really impacted by the weather, more so than in previous years,” County Administrator Jason Dzwinel said. 

Those are the lowest numbers recorded in the last 10 years for both county courses.

In 2009, the number of golfers on the two courses, March through September, totaled about 72,000, almost 22,000 more than this year. Receipts totaled about $1.68 million, reaching a peak in 2012 of about $1.71 million.

Dzwinel said the golf courses are self-supporting and not subsidized by taxpayers but contribute to the county’s general operations. 

“They are treated a bit like the private sector where they make a contribution to the property tax levy in lieu of taxes,” Dzwinel said.

“We’re anticipating both courses will end the year in the black, despite being down year over year,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s any different than what golf courses are experiencing statewide and nationwide;  there just aren’t as many people playing golf.”

Asked if the time is approaching when the county may get out of the golf business, Dzwinel said. “As long as we’re able to manage those courses and keep them (self-sustaining), I don’t see anything changing.”

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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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