City golf prices sliced to get more players

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lewisburg increased golf cart and fairway prices last year to help balance the recreation budget, but golfers went elsewhere so the price was cut Tuesday in hopes of increasing revenue.

City councilmen on Tuesday accepted a recommendation from the Recreation Board, as presented by recreation Director Guy Chambers. However, two councilmen qualified their vote, insisting that the price cut be re-examined when next year's budget is assembled.

Green fees and golf cart rental totaled $23 last year at the city's nine-hole course accessed from the Recreation Center on the south side of Mooresville Highway, Chambers said. That price was increased to $31 and revenue was down $7,000 during seven months.

"We hoped it would help our budget, but it hurt it," Chambers told the council. "This is the only segment of our budget that's out of shape."

The recreation director called other golf courses available to the public and concluded "We are higher," he said.

Since Lewisburg's course is half the size of an 18-hole course, he said, comparisons are not good.

Recreation board members recommended a new rate of $25, or $2 more than the price last year, Chambers said.

Councilman Robin Minor asked about operating costs. The department's budget was discussed and the concept of subsidizing area residents' recreation was briefly debated.

"He's showing that he could lower fees and get more revenue," Mayor Barbara Woods concluded.

Councilman Ronald McRady seconded Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart's motion to accept the recommendation presented by Chambers who said he has no guarantee that lower prices would increase revenue.

"Most of the people of Lewisburg don't play golf," Minor said, but Woods replied the recreation budget is "distorted" with regard to what's spent on various sports because it also supports Little League and other sports with many more participants.

Councilmen Hershel Davis, Stewart and McRady voted for the motion, as did Minor and Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. However Whitehead and Minor said their votes were contingent upon re-examination of the golf course fees before the 2011-12 budget is adopted.