Belk Park Golf Course loses another manager
WOOD RIVER – the city is driving hard to keep managers in play at Belk Park Golf course.for the second time in seven weeks, the general manager of the 18-hole city-owned golf course has quit.
“(The manager) turned in his letter of resignation (Thursday),” said Jason Woody, the city’s park and recreation superintendent.
James Earle resigned three weeks after he took over the top position at the golf course. Earle was brought in to replace Mike Gerber, who had lasted only three weeks after being hired to replace the course’s longtime pro/general manager, who was terminated in February.
Woody said he’s unsure about how the city will proceed, but he believes for now the golf course will be run with part-time help until officials figure out its next course of action.
The city has made numerous changes at the golf course this year in order to recapture dwindling revenue in the Enterprise Fund. the first step it took was letting go Mike Brasher, who served in the combined golf pro/manager position.
City Manager Jim Schneider said the city no longer could afford to pay Brasher the salary and benefit package of nearly $93,000. Schneider said the city expected to save between $40,000 and $50,000 after eliminating the golf pro position.
“We just didn’t see the need for golf pro any longer,” Schneider said.
Mayor Fred Ufert said he’s disappointed that the course’s newest manager decided to leave.
“It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out,” Ufert said.
For now, Ufert said the city plans to hire a tournament director to make sure that scheduled events continue to take place and operate smoothly.
Woody said there would be people hired part-time to help run the daily operations of the golf course and clubhouse.
“We are just going to take it one day at a time and see how it goes,” Woody said.
During the past year, the city began looking at ways to improve revenue, because the course was facing a $130,000 deficit. the overall operating budget is less than $850,000.
The city placed the golf course back under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Department, and Woody now oversees its budget.
City officials said they didn’t want to hire a management company because they don’t want to lose control over the operations.
At one time, the golf course was under the umbrella of the Parks and Recreation Department, but when a former director left, it changed to being its own entity. During recent years, the City Council felt there was not enough oversight.
Schneider said the city hopes to attract more players by making the rates competitive with nearby courses.
“We are going to be doing things a little different,” he said.
Earlier this week, the City Council voted to lower the rates at the golf course, which now includes cart rental. Fees decreased between $4 and $7, depending on weekday and weekend/holiday rates, as well as whether 9 holes or 18 holes are played.
Woody said he is pleased with is the condition of the course. He said city officials made the decision last year to outsource its greens maintenance to save costs.
During the first year, the city saw a $40,000 savings.
“The greens couldn’t look any better,” Woody said.