Owensboro public golf courses operating in the red

January 27, 2020 | 12:09 am

Updated January 27, 2020 | 8:03 am

Photo by AP Imagery

Two of Owensboro’s public golf courses aren’t seeing green when it comes to revenue. Numbers from the City show they fall in the hole year after year with costs.

“Running the golf courses is definitely expensive,” said Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department Director Amanda Rogers. “These places aren’t going to break even.”

It costs the City roughly half a million dollars annually to keep Ben Hawes Golf Course open to the public, while it costs about $100,000 to keep Hillcrest open.

The parks department gets about $1 million per year from the City to manage Ben Hawes Golf Course, though it only generates about half that amount in revenues, according to the City’s data.

Over the last four years, the course operated at losses as follows:
• $451,639 (2016-2017)
• $447,341 (2017-2018)
• $791,809 (2018-2019)
• $593,127 (2019-2020)

Ben Hawes Golf Course is the most expensive property within all of Ben Hawes Park. The total assessed value of Ben Hawes Park by the Property Valuation Administrator is $9,142,700.

Rogers said despite the bill, the golf courses hold an intrinsic value which serves Owensboro’s quality-of-life initiative.

“We want to preserve green space for our future generations,” Rogers said. “It’s not there to generate revenue.”

Rogers said there aren’t a lot of public golf courses making a profit, as city-owned golf courses in surrounding areas are also struggling.

Parks and recreation officials in Louisville and Lexington have reported to their city council that none of the golf courses have turned a profit.

Those cities have considered closing some of its golf courses after shaved expenses and strategies implemented to increase revenue failed.

In a similar fashion, Owensboro discussed closing Hillcrest Golf Course in 2015 as a cost-savings measure due to dwindling demand and insufficient revenue. Residents were loudly against this idea, and the Owensboro City Commission ultimately decided to keep Hillcrest open.

Over the last four years, the course operated at losses as follows:
• $107,065 (2016-2017)
• $99,351 (2017-2018)
• $95,479 (2018-2019)
• $99,385 (2019-2020)

Revenues in Louisville and Lexington have consistently gone down, while personnel expenses have gone up. Both of Owensboro public golf courses are falling in line with this trend.

“We are constantly looking at ways to generate revenues,” Rogers said. “I wouldn’t want to see Ben Hawes Golf Course close.”

January 27, 2020 | 12:09 am

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