Montrose sees perks to buying golf course

A shift to a fully owned Montrose city golf course at Black Canyon Golf Club, 1350 Birch St., will bring some perks to golfers. One of the immediate benefits will be free golfing for children under 10, Montrose City Manager Bill Bell said.

“Our goal is to make it a family- and community-friendly golf course,” Bell said of the course, which should open back up in the spring.

A deal for the city to purchase the front nine holes of the golf course has not officially gone through, but that outcome is expected after a Feb. 7 vote among about 700 shareholders of the area’s more than 50-year-old course.

Montrose city councilors on Tuesday night unanimously decided to place a bid of $635,000 for the front nine holes of the course, its land, infrastructure and its naming rights.  The city already owns the course’s back nine holes.

The course’s owner, Montrose Land Company, defaulted on loan payments and the city declined a request by the company to pay for additional operational and capital improvement costs, Bell said.

The city already paid about $40,000 to $50,000 a year to help operations at the course, Montrose Mayor Pro-tem Carol McDermott said.  By purchasing the course outright, city officials believes they can shave off $100,000 in expenses, Bell said.

Those savings will come from using the city’s parks and recreation department for course maintenance, skirting about $19,000 in taxes that the city would not have to pay Montrose County, and the city not having to pay thousands of dollars in loan payments.

The city won’t have a golf professional on site (it will call on local golfers to help with that service), but the city has retained the course’s sole employee, its golf director, Tom Young.

Montrose Mayor Judy Ann Files said she’s aware that there is a national trend of golf courses attracting fewer players, and that Montrose already has two other courses within the city limits.  There are nine golf courses in the region, from Delta to Telluride.

However the city’s acquisition of the front nine holes of the course is necessary because it couldn’t very well operate the back nine holes without it. The course’s buildings, golf carts and other amenities are located on the front nine.

A city-owned and operated golf course also solves the sticky issue of the city directly supporting a private business.  “Our constituents say, ‘No, you are subsidizing a private company,’” Files said.

Yet the idea for the city to purchase the course has been met with overwhelming support since the idea was floated a few months ago, Files said. Several meetings on the issue attracted overflow crowds, with the overwhelming majority of participants — many of whom were Black Canyon Golf Club stakeholders — in favor of the deal, Files said.

“The city is very excited about this opportunity,” she said.

In 1986, the city received the land adjoining the Black Canyon Golf Club as a donation and created the back nine holes. It leased the holes back to the golf course operators.  Black Canyon Golf Club became Montrose’s first 18-hole golf course until Cobble Creek Golf Course was created in 1999. Montrose also is home to the Bridges Golf & Country Club.

Files said if the golf course doesn’t work out, in time, the city can convert the land into park space.


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