Montrose may have to close back 9
The municipal golf course in Montrose is having financial woes and may be forced to revert to a nine-hole course by next spring, city and golf course officials said.
But before that happens, officials with the city and Black Canyon Golf Club are hoping to find a way to rescue the back nine, which opened in 1988.
The city has long had a nine-hole course, known as the front nine, which at one time was the only golf course in town, said City Manager William Bell.
As a way to boost economic development and bring more visitors to town, the city entered into an agreement with the operators of that course, the Montrose Land Co., to expand it.
It came up with the funding needed to build the back nine holes, including helping to get land purchase agreements from area property owners.
But since then, two other golf courses have opened in town, and that has helped reduce the number of golfers who frequent the course, said Brad Oberto, president of the board that oversees operation of the course.
“Montrose is a relatively small community and it has three 18-hole golf courses now,” he said. “Back in 1999-2000 when we were the only golf course in town, we were doing 30,000 rounds a year. Since the other two courses have opened up, our rounds have dropped to somewhere around 17,000 to 18,000 a year. That’s a pretty big hit. The economy has definitely influenced what’s going on as well.”
In 2008, the golf course and city entered into an agreement in which the city gives the course $50,000 a year to help with maintenance and operating costs, but that no longer is enough, Oberto said. As a result, the course asked the city to double that amount, and agree to do so for at least 10 years.
The city said no.
“The City Council wasn’t excited about a 10-year proposition or $100,000 a year,” Bell said. “That (request) also included about $155,000 for capital to build a pump house and some other infrastructure items. Obviously, like everybody else, our budget has shrunk quite a bit in the last five, six years so the council didn’t feel comfortable doing that.”
As a result, the operators of the course announced plans to close the back nine, and operate it as before, a decision that didn’t sit well with area golfers who flooded the City Council chambers last week asking if there was some other solution.
Bell and Oberto are hopeful there is.
In the next few weeks, the two men plan to gather together all those who have a stake in the course to try to come up with a long-term solution, which they said could include the city buying it outright and operating it itself, or turning it over to the Montrose Recreation District.
“The board is just beginning to explore potential options, and I don’t know where it’s going to end up,” Oberto said. “The hope is to try and find some way to keep it as an 18-hole facility and get some long-lasting solution.”