Municipally-owned golf courses have long been an issue of discussion. What is the balance between public entertainment and public needs? How do the costs of golf course maintenance and management reconcile with revenues? Are there hidden costs and benefits? Subsidy vs. self-supporting?
In 2015, Golf Magazine ranked Florida as having the most courses and most avid golfers in the country. However, a recent news investigation by USA TODAY Network-Florida found that Florida’s municipal golf courses have lost a combined $100 million over the past five years, requiring subsidies totaling nearly $65 million to stay afloat. Losses were attributed to declining participation, seasonal fluctuations in rounds, and competition with privately-owned courses.
On a more positive note, the study also highlighted the sustained financial success of IGM maintenance client Sandridge Golf Club in Indian River County. Maintenance services for the Club’s two 18-hole golf courses have been contracted to IGM for more than 20 years, and Sandridge has achieved excess revenues of $2.8 million over the past five years. The article identifies Sandridge Golf Club as one of only a handful of Florida’s municipal golf courses to be largely self-sustaining.
Sandridge Director of Golf Bela Nagy was quoted in the article saying that outsourcing course maintenance to IGM has saved the club about $200,000 annually, while also improving the course appearance. “If you don’t have good greens, you aren’t going to stay in business very long,” said Nagy. He added that the cost savings had allowed Sandridge to keep rates low for golfers. “We seem to have found a balance over the years: the right price that makes the right amount of money.” Indian River County Commissioner Joe Flescher confirmed the County’s expectation for the Club to provide high quality, as well as to “live and die on the money it brings in.”
IGM Executive Vice-President Greg Plotner is proud of his team’s long-term relationship with Sandridge Golf Course. While the outsourced maintenance contract was originally signed as a cost-cutting measure, Plotner said, “Indian River County also has a commitment to improve their asset for community residents and golfers. They’ve invested in capital improvements that have allowed us to maintain the courses in excellent condition over the years.”
Municipal golf courses are generally amenities that enhance the overall quality of life in a community and provide accessibility to high-quality golf experiences to residents and visitors. “We partner with our clients with the goal of helping them be successful, both financially and with player satisfaction,” added Plotner. Regular planning sessions between Nagy and the IGM team ensure major maintenance projects are scheduled to accommodate the Club’s higher winter golf population and year-round program of tournaments and events.
Because municipal budgets are typically set six to eight months in advance, the IGM team often presents to county and city managers to support budget preparation on behalf of course directors. “IGM has been a great partner,” said Nagy.
IGM provides complete golf course maintenance and management services to municipal and privately-owned courses in Florida and other markets across the country. The company is committed to agronomic excellence and environmentally-conscious methods and products. For more information on IGM and the professional golf course services offered, please contact Greg Plotner, Executive Vice President, 407-589-7200. Additional information may be obtained by visiting IGM’s website at golfmaintenance.com.