City golf division proposes fee increases to bring courses ‘into the 21st century’

Dixie Red Hills Golf Course, St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2018 | File photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — During a public meeting Thursday, St. George city officials discussed implementing several upgrades at city-owned golf courses.

Sunbrook Golf Club, one of four golf courses owned and operated by the city, St. George, Utah, April 9, 2013 | File photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News

The city’s Golf Course Division oversees the operation and maintenance of four municipal golf courses totaling 72 holes, including Red Hills Golf on north Bluff Street, Southgate Golf between Dixie Drive and Interstate 15 along the Santa Clara River, St. George Golf in the Bloomington Hills area and Sunbrook Golf south of Sunset Boulevard off Dixie Drive.

For the fiscal year 2019-20 budget, the city is looking to upgrade equipment at all four courses and perform major upgrades to the clubhouses at St. George Golf and Southgate, both of which were built decades ago.

“We should be able to pull both those clubhouses into the 21st century with more modern amenities,” St. George Support Services Director Marc Mortensen said.

The facilities’ upgrades come on the heels of an entirely rebuilt clubhouse at Red Hills Golf Course, which is scheduled for completion in July and will feature new restaurant facilities, a lounge area and lots of extra restroom space.

Read more: Construction to begin on long-sought clubhouse upgrade at Dixie Red Hills Golf Course

The total cost of the facilities improvements in the proposed budget is $630,000, which has yet to be approved by the City Council and will be subject to two public hearings in the coming weeks.

The Golf Course Division is also asking for $389,390 worth of new equipment, with a particular focus on maintenance tools. The division currently relies on heavily aged and worn out equipment.

“I think all of our departments have been doing a really good job of making things last and using things until they wear out,” City Manager Adam Lenhard said, “but I’m not sure any division in the city does that as well as golf.”

The Golf Course Division is seeking the upgrades in an effort to maintain the city’s courses as attractive outdoor recreation destinations for both residents and tourists.

“Golf is making a comeback, and it’s done very well,” Mortensen said. “We want to keep the momentum moving forward, especially with the younger golfers.”

High school students compete in a golf tournament at Southgate Golf Club , St. George, Utah, March 28, 2019 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

To pay for facility upgrades and some pay raises for golf course employees, the division is proposing a fee increase of $1 per 9 holes and a $1 cart fee increase. (See Ed. note)

Lenhard said even with the proposed fee increases, the green fees at city-owned golf courses are still well below privately owned courses in the area.

“We offer a very, very competitive deal on golf,” he said.

The last time the city increased fees was in 2007.

“Without having regular fee increases, we haven’t kept up with inflation,” Lenhard said.

Mortensen said the fee increases will allow the courses to bring in an estimated combined revenue of $5.25 million in the next fiscal year, an approximately $250,000 increase from the last year.

Ed. note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the fee increase as $1 per hole.

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