WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
GOLF OPERATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: October 15, 2011
Place: Wilmette Golf Club
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Commissioners: Brault, Murdock, Olvany, Benz, Shelley
Staff: Bowen, Matchen, Locke, Wilson
Visitors: Fred Watson, Dodie Kohl, Sue Salay, Bob McHugh, Pat Bosco, David Kritzler,
Dee Lindmark, Tom Bonnie, Courtenay Wood, Frank Charhut, Bill Lemieux, Tim Tercheck, Noel Jackson, Bob Westover, Elizabeth Barker, Pat McCann, Sue Lies
Topics of Discussion
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
3) Communications and Correspondence
4) Managers Reports
5) 2011 Golf Users Meeting
6) Old Business
7) New Business
1) The meeting was called to order at 8:30 a.m.
2) The Committee approved the minutes of the August 27, 2011 Committee meeting by General Consent.
3) Under Communications and Correspondence, President Brault stated a note was received from a user asking that chairs with armrests be placed in the restaurant. President Brault added that chairs are included in the five-year capital plan for Golf. In addition, a note was received from someone who participated in the Faith Hope and Charity golf outing and who will return to play at the course since everyone had a great time even though the weather was inclement. Tom Bonnie also provided to the Committee an update on his history of the golf course which was sent to the full Board. President Brault thanked him for the additional information.
4) Under Managers Reports:
Jamie Locke reported that over the last six weeks the weather was excellent with many golfers out on the course. The weather in September was perfect for golf and there were several outings held including the men’s and women’s Championships. So far in October, everything is running pretty well. Director of Instructor/Assistant Golf Professional Kim McCombs created a new instructional class for children age 5-8 called Tiny Aces which was very successful this summer with 73 children. Jamie also thanked everyone for their cooperation and assistance during his first year as the Golf Club Manager/Head PGA Golf Professional.
General Manager/Golf Course Superintendent Matchen reported drainage work was being done in front of the 10th tee. The golf course’s yearend report includes two recommendations for next year. Several years ago all of the leagues made adjustments in their schedules which has worked out well. However, there are not that many ladies who play beyond Labor Day. As a result, the first recommendation is to extend the end of the ladies league season from August to September. The second recommendation is to discontinue the Wilmette Amateur Tournament permanent and then move the Men’s Club Championship to the weekend after Labor Day.
David Kritzler stated that the efforts Mike has made to move the water off the course have been effective this year and as a result the course will probably recover much faster this year than in the past. However, about eight or nine years ago sprinklers were installed because there wasn’t enough water on the course which indicates that weather patterns tend to recycle. What is essential is that we have a golf course that is updated. He understands the financial issues involved if the greens have to be redone but it is a long-term problem and should be addressed.
President Brault stated there is a range of opinions of what improvements need to be made on the course. Overall, he believes everyone recognizes that something should be done to maintain and improve the course. Mr. Kritzler added he is concerned that progress on the master plan has slowed down even though the improvements still need to be made. President Brault stated that the Board is aware of the issues involved but their job is also to create a balance among other capital items.
Commissioner Murdock stated he has always been amazed with the District’s five-year capital plan which acts as a road map of projects to be undertaken. Some of the greens on the course have been designed in different ways and he is still trying to absorb all of the recommendations made in the master plan and the timing of the work. He stated the District needs to have a road map and need to keep on working on it. Commissioner Olvany stated that for example when looking at the drainage on the greens and sand traps, how do we prioritize the opinions from other parties.
Mr. Kritzler further stated that every spring we have had rain and every fall we’ll lose rounds somewhere but we need to have something that is permanent so that we don’t have to constantly go back and repair those areas. We could start by attacking green by green and shut down the entire golf course.
Commissioner Olvany John stated he played the course on Monday and the greens in his opinion are phenomenal and was surprised that there was so much concern about them. His initial observation is that the focus should be on the fairways and rough. Mr. Kritzler replied that judging the course on just one day of playing on it is not a fair assessment.
Superintendent Matchen stated that all of the greens are inconsistent when putting and maintaining them because of the different eras of construction and different grasses. He also agreed that the sand traps need to be redone.
Frank Charhut asked why there is deadwood on #6 and could the gravel path at #6 tee be improved. Superintendent Matchen stated that they could make a limestone path right up to it and his crew continue to resod it.
Sue Lies agreed that #16 tee should be moved back. Superintendent Matchen stated that it is part of the master plan to rebuild 16 green and make additional tee space to create a place where it is better able to receive sod.
Pat McCann stated that #16 is in pretty good condition and it is a very difficult green. Greens 5 and 8 are sufficient but the traps need to be redesigned. The size of the course’s bunkers are very large and maybe they don’t need to be that big. He would also like to see smaller, more consistent traps on some of these – from a maintenance standpoint it would be more practical. The tees also sometimes puddle up with water so that should also be reviewed. Overall, he thinks the course is terrific.
Tom Bonnie stated that some of the outings had to be moved into the fall this summer because of rain. And there were two or three Fridays when the course was essentially closed which are the busiest days. The outings shouldn’t be so large that the course has to close. At the very least open it up in the mornings for 9-hole play.
Superintendent Matchen pointed out that there is a very fine line when dealing with outings. We also need them to keep all our residents rates in line and the course was a little heavy with outings at the end of this year because of all the rain this spring and summer.
Jaime Locke explained that as far as revenue goes, an outing with 100 players at $50/person is a lot of revenue and staff tries to accommodate the other golfers as well although a back nine start in the morning is a possibility.
Commissioner Olvany stated he wanted to play the course before the meeting today but was told that he couldn’t do that. He didn’t think of calling ahead and fee players aren’t going to do that. President Brault added maybe we could modify our nine-hole drop-in module. Director Wilson stated that was attempted a couple of years ago but people complained that their names weren’t on the tee sheet. However, names are now being displayed. The plan for next year is to utilize that integrated system for managing the pro shop and making everything tighter. Commissioner Shelly stated the outings are good for the facility especially when they are held later in the year.
Tom Bonnie asked if the integrated software was able to track those who walk-on. He suggests that this be done because it could be used for marketing and tapping into those folks.
Courtney Wood, Vice President of the WGA, thanked Mike for the new logo. She stated staff has worked hard on their marketing efforts and their membership is now up 12%. An open house was held for the public in April with good attendance which resulted in more members from other zip codes. They are looking forward to further marketing innovations. Also, opening up the Association to non-residents has been a big help. One of their challenges continues to be the flexibility of their schedule.
Superintendent Matchen further explained that there are five ladies leagues at the club and the WGA works as the overseeing Board of all the leagues. Staff works with the Board and they have done a terrific job.
Dodie Kohl expressed her appreciation to Mike and Jamie and the rest of the staff for helping them out with the ladies league’s Rally for the Cure Tournament. This was the sixth year for the event which attempts to increase breast cancer awareness and it could not have been done without their help.
Pat McCann stated he sat in at the Financial Planning Committee meeting last week and it opened his eyes. He feels that the District must do whatever it can to make the renovation of the course a priority.
President Brault stated that as promised the master plan would be considered by the Financial Planning Committee and then by the full Board and we are doing that right now. There has been vigorous debate on how and what to do with the master plan and this will continue for another couple of months. As part of the process, the District will now be sending out a survey to all course members to ask about potential revenue sources to pay for the improvements which could include an increase in membership fees or initiate a per-round surcharge to pay for the costs. No decision has yet been made and we are looking for input.
President Brault then asked for a show of hands from those who would rather increase the annual membership rate by 5-10% or instead add a per-round fee of $2 or $3. It resulted in a “50-50” split.
Elizabeth Burton stated that there should be no increase in resident fees. Superintendent Matchen added that all fees are fairly close and that it’s the membership information that will be included in the Golf Report. Ms. Burton also stated that Unlimited players shouldn’t pay anything and she is also not in favor or raising the Unlimited fee.
President Brault stated that to the extent that what is taxable to the residents of the Wilmette currently and then we now make significant changes, there would be an unbalance between who is paying for the course and who is using it.
Frank Charhut suggested that a surcharge could be added and that he believes that some of the money could from the outside. Mr. Kritzler asked what happened to the money in the budget for the construction of #6? This project needs to be done.
President Brault stated the golf course budget is not a discreet entity and the Board looks at how we manage the overall District. Mr. Kritzler stated that this project had already been planned for the course.
Commissioner Murdock added that when we budgeted for #6 green that was before the master plan. As a result, he was thrown for a loop when he heard the feedback from everyone who either said do it all at once or do it in two stages. We didn’t want to do #6 and then two years later rip it out. And President Brault is correct – the Board needs to continue their review. We all recognize that #6 is one of our largest problems and needs to be addressed. The question is when it will happen. Everyone also realizes we agreed to install the fan and then review its impact. We will continue to work on the issues surrounding the course and eventually we will get it right.
President Brault added that there are several of us are our concerned that the plan will morph into something else and the focus for now will remain on the drainage issues.
Commissioner Olvany asked how the users would feel if the course closed for renovation. Bob McHugh stated he has never met anyone who had anything good to say about shutting down a course. He would be pretty shocked if that decision was made. He believes there are other options. Commissioner Olvany stated that one has to be a golf person to appreciate spending money on issues such as drainage.
Tom Bonnie asked what was going on with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) and the restrictions that they plan to place on us.
President Brault stated that about a third of the course is in a flood plain so any work that is done there is subject to MWRD’s approval. In addition, because of changes being made in 2015, it will become significantly more expensive to address our water management. Commissioner Murdock added that the MWRD has authority over all development throughout the regional area. There are now more stringent requirements for flood plains so they are increasing retention requirements for the entire the course. So in essence, they want to have more water on our fairways during storms. If we are permitted in 2012, then we will have three years to do the work.
Sue Lies asked if the Master Plan had addressed the practice range and Superintendent Matchen replied that yes it was included.
6) Old Business: None
7) New Business: None
8) There being no additional business, the Committee was adjourned at 9:20 a.m.
Minutes taken by J. Bowen.
MINUTES APPROVED NOVEMBER 17, 2011.