Palm Coast is planning $215,000 in sand bunker repairs, but also seeking new ways to make the property profitable.
The city of Palm Coast will spend about $215,000 to repair sand bunkers at the Palm Harbor Golf Club.
Not all residents were happy spending taxpayer money on the course, which, unlike city parks, charges user fees: $28-$37 for 18 holes, or $18-$24 for nine holes.
“Why should the people of this city support the amusement of a few?” Palm Coast resident and frequent City Council meeting commenter Jack Carall said at an Aug. 16 council meeting. “And that’s not cheap. … I have to sit at home — and I don’t golf — and say, ‘Well, all these people are golfing on my money.’ But I never hear people say, ‘Well let’s raise (the entrance fee) $5. … Let’s get them to support it a little bit, instead of being the nice guy.”
The city-owned, KemperSports-managed club loses money every year — about $300,000 last year, City Manager Jim Landon said — and the city covers the deficit with taxpayer money, treating the property much as it would a city park or trail — as an amenity.
Palm Coast resident Anita Moeder, who is running for City Council, compared the course to the city’s trails and parks, which all require maintenance. “I think that making sure we maintain those to the proper standard is really critical,” she said.
Carall disagreed with Moeder’s comparison of the golf property to local parks.
“I don’t pay to go into the park,” he said. “If I want to ride my bike, I don’t have to give you $5 and say, ‘Oh I’m going to ride it 8 miles.’ If I want to go to a park, I don’t give you $2 and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to use the swings.’ … But a golf course, I’ve got to pay to play. … But I don’t on these other parks and these amenities that we’ve paid for. Those, I agree with. Those are money well spent.”
The bunker repairs at the golf course, city staff said, are regular maintenance that must be performed once every seven or eight years.
Councilman Steve Nobile said the course couldn’t just be shut down. “We own the golf course,” he said. “We can not go into that community right now and say we’re shutting it down. That would just be devastating to Palm Coast, to that community. So what we need to focus on is how to make it profitable, how to keep it active.”
Councilwoman Heidi Shipley had proposed at an earlier meeting that the city look into adding foot golf at the course, and brought in an expert Aug. 9 to discuss the proposal at a City Council workshop.
Councilman Jason DeLorenzo said the course is an asset for the city. "Keeping it as a high-quality amenity of the city is necessary,” he said. “Part of owning an asset is maintaining it at a high quality.”