Golf Operations Committee Meeting Minutes
8:30 a.m. - Saturday, July 11, 2015
Golf Course Clubhouse

Attendees Present

Commissioners: James Crowley, Shelley Shelly, Stephanie Foster
Staff: Jeff Bowen, Mike Matchen, Adam Kwiatkoski, Nick Marfise, Ken Eppelheimer

Attendees Absent


I. Meeting Called to Order

Meeting called to order at 8:30 a.m.

II. Approval of Minutes

Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Foster seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the June 13, 2015 Golf Committee meeting. All approved by general consent.

III. Communications and Correspondence

Commissioner Crowley acknowledged some emails regarding grandfathering in former residents of Wilmette for golf memberships. Commissioner Shelly commented that if we opened up this opportunity for golf then all across the facilities it would have to be done. She feels that the non-resident rate is a fair rate. Commissioner Foster agrees that this would be hard to do unless it was across all the facilities. Superintendent Bowen will reach out and let the individuals know what the Committee decided.

Superintendent Bowen stated that the District is down in golf memberships this year and the biggest category is resident unlimited. Golf will be looking at ways to make it more attractive for different people. Superintendent Bowen stated that some options will be discussed during the budget process. Commissioner Crowley indicated that Financial Planning & Policy Committee should be involved in this process to see what may be coming down the road.

Fred Watson, a Wilmette resident, stated that the District does not offer a senior non-resident rate like the other facilities in the area. The Committee stated they will discuss this option during the budget process.

IV. Recognition of Visitors

Attendance Record will become a permanent part of the record. 
Fred Watson, Bill Lemieux

V. Manager Reports

Nick Marfise (Assistant Supt. of Golf Course) reported on the following:

  • The United States Golf Association (USGA) includes golf consulting services and onsite visits.  A report will be compiled and shared with staff. USGA offered some recommendations on how to tweak things and improve the growing environments.
  • The District’s website portion under Golf has been updated to reflect a Greens & Grounds section to help educate on the conditions of the golf course. 
  • Golf Course Superintendent Associations (GCSA) filmed the District’s staff and golf course which can be found on GCSA’s website.
  • He presented and discussed areas of the golf course and how the course is continuing to be worked on and maintained.

Adam Kwiatkoski (Golf Business Manager) reported on the following:

  • The financial details for the first six months of the golf course for this year presented some challenges with the rain. It was reported that June was the wettest month and the least amount of sunshine in the history of Chicago.
  • A few outings had to be cancelled a few have been rescheduled.
  • Play has been down. The total rounds are 17% down (11,897 versus 14,394 total rounds) from what was reported in 2013. On the positive side the fee rounds, people who come in and play are not down nearly as much. The biggest drop off in rounds is the member rounds which is primarily based on the lack of time to play due to the weather.
  • There are multiple outings booked for the remainder of the season.
  • There are currently 395 memberships; 500 memberships were budgeted for the season. We based this number on 512 members in 2012 and 498 in 2011. The course was closed for half of each season in 2013 and 2014 for renovations. The Committee discussed the golf industry and how to handle the ongoing changes.

Commissioner Shelly asked how the District is compared with other park districts for women’s golf. Adam Kwiatkoski stated that the Wilmette Park District has one of the larger women’s leagues. He stated that outside of league play that is something to look at. The Committee discussed ways to market to women such as an orientation session. The Committee would like to see these ideas shared sooner rather than later. Superintendent Bowen stated that staff will review some options and report back to the Committee.

  • Golf members have house accounts set up to put items needed on their house accounts and pay for it later. There are over $8,000 in charges that have not been recognized yet due to payment. Superintendent Bowen collecting outstanding fees has not been a problem for golf.
  • The Junior Golf program which is at capacity is in full swing and is going well.
  • The Junior Golf Academy is the only program that has gone down in enrollment. This program is being reinvented to attract more participants.

Commissioner Shelly suggested offering an incentive program for members who bring in people for the daily play. The Committee thought this was a good idea. Superintendent Bowen will look into some options on an incentive reward system.

VI. Unfinished Business


VII. New Business

Superintendent Bowen stated there is $72,000 in capital expenses for equipment that has already been approved for the golf course. He commented on a reprioritization that was discussed with staff to focus on different equipment that will meet the needs of the new golf course. Nick Marfise updated the Committee on the reprioritization of the equipment to better serve the golf course. He stated that the current pieces of equipment are still working and functioning and there are a few new pieces of equipment that are needed to increase operational efficiencies and maintain the new golf course. Superintendent Bowen stated the equipment will help with labor costs. Mike Matchen commented on the change in priorities from what has been learned with the cultural practices such as aerifying, top dressing, and many other things that will help with the new golf course and taking it where it needs to go in the future. Nick Marfise explained the different pieces of equipment to move the golf course in the right direction and well as improving labor costs.

Commissioner Shelly stated that her concern is that the District is already below budget numbers. She suggested waiting until next year. Superintendent Bowen stated that this amount was approved in capital expenses for last year. This is not coming out of the operational side of the budget. Mike Matchen stated that he had budgeted for the aerifier a number of years ago and due to him retiring he was leaving it up to the new person to decide on exactly what type of equipment will be needed. Commissioner Crowley recommended deferring the entire $72,000 in capital expenditure due to the changing of golf and what the future holds for golf. Nick Marfise outlined the different pieces of equipment and how they will help. He commented on how the top dressing is done properly with a material handler piece ($28,672) of equipment. It takes approximately three days to top dress the aprons in front of the greens. Top dressing is done once to twice a month with a gap in play and disrupting golfers. The new conveyor style machine ($22,000) allows staff to complete within one day which allows one to stay ahead of golf with less disruption, and less complaints due to sand being on the turf. The aerifier is along the same concept, what it takes two people to do all day would take one person to do. This is done at least once a month. The last piece of equipment is a heavy style work vehicle ($22,000) used for heavy lifting and dumping of materials. Superintendent Bowen emphasized the different needs of the course and feels these pieces of equipment are worthy.

Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Foster seconded a motion to transfer the spending of $72,000 in capital funds for the different equipment that is needed to address the needs of the golf course.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners Shelly, Foster, Crowley; voting No: None. Absent: None; motion carried.

VIII. Adjournment

There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 9:32 a.m.