WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
GOLF OPERATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: March 10, 2012
Place: Wilmette Golf Club
Time: 7:30 a.m.
Commissioners: Brault, Murdock, Olvany
Absent: Commissioner Shelly
Staff: Bowen, Matchen, Locke, Wilson
Visitors: Fred Watson, Bill Lemieux
Topics of Discussion
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes:
a) November 17, 2011 as amended
b) January 14, 2012
3) Recognition of Visitors
4) Communications and Correspondence
a) Email from K. Sutchar re: Recycling
5) New Tee Time Software Demo
6) Managers Reports
7) Old Business
8) New Business
9) Adjourn to Closed Session (Discussion of Specific Employee(s)
a) Reconvene Regular Meeting
b) Consideration of Action, if any
1) The meeting was called to order at 7:30 am.
2) The Committee approved the minutes of the November 17, 2011 Committee meeting as amended and the January 14, 2012 Committee meeting.
3) Recognition of Visitors: None
4) Under Communications and Correspondence, an email regarding recycling at the golf course from Ken Sutchar was reviewed in regard to recycling at the course. Director Wilson indicated staff is currently conducting a District-wide recycling evaluation in conjunction with a member of Go Green Wilmette in order to identify weaknesses and determining a method of recycling in the future. Director Wilson also indicated he would reply to Mr. Sutchar’s email.
Golf Manager/Head Pro Jamie Locke reported the lottery drawing was held on Tuesday, March 13. As of this morning, we have a total of 58 compared to a total of 63 teams total last year. So far this year there are 297 membership passes compared to last year’s total at this time of 279. Jamie also reported memberships are going really well in all membership categories.
5) Jamie then conducted a demonstration of the new tee time software which will provide the front counter with the ability to check in and out very quickly and the controls we will now have a result will be very beneficial. He then reviewed the steps for logging into the system and searching for and selecting a tee time. He indicated there is also an option to select any member who is active in the system. After logging out, the golfer will receive an email confirmation of the tee time and be able to see who else the golfer will be playing with since there will be actual names on the tee sheets and will also show who is ahead or behind in the queue. However, no credit card information is displayed.
Jamie reported that our course is able to allow cancellations of up to 30 minutes ahead of time and staff is usually able to fill them although we would prefer 24 hours in advance. General Manager Mike Matchen indicated the course has also had a $10 fee cancellation and we have been very fortunate in that our members have been good about cancelling their times. Jamie added that setting up a guest tee time is also very easy and he explained the steps involved with that process.
Jamie indicated an email will be sent to everyone in our database to explain the features of the new system which will include a short instructional video as well. In addition, when the golfers enter their email addresses staff will be “capturing” them as well. Commissioner Murdock asked if there was a way at the end of the month or season to track the number of cancellations that were not resold. Jamie replied that we will be able to track those with the new system. He also stated that in general the system will provide much better reporting and is very simple to use. In addition, a tremendous amount of work has been done behind the scenes and special thanks go to Amy Lambrecht who spent a lot of item working on this new system.
Superintendent Bowen explained that historically the original conversion to GolfTrac was not very well accepted by the membership. One of the two biggest issues was that they were not able to select another member for their foursomes. The second issue was that when looking at the tee sheet they were unable to view the names of those listed before or after them. These two issues have now been resolved. The new system is different and as with any changes people need to get used to it but the ease of working it will not be an issue.
Commissioner Olvany asked if a member wanted to play but did not have a foursome, would he be able to go into the system to see if there is an opening in someone else’s foursome. Superintendent Bowen replied that he would need to search for one, two or three spots which would then bring up any of those open times following his criteria. Director Wilson added that one thing that option is missing is a “pay all balances” option which selects all items for the golfer. This system is also real time so if someone incurs additional items he or she can pay the entire bill or just a portion. Director Wilson stated we can definitely set up an “Easy Pay” link which takes you to the screen. However, we have been hesitant with doing too much electronically in regard to billing since there seemed to be some reluctance among the golfers.
Superintendent Bowen also stated the golfers who used the old system had an individual password as well as a household account in RecTrac which had an additional user name and password. We will now be informing everyone what their household user names and passwords are and people will have the ability to change their passwords. Jamie added that as a result there will now be one database instead of the multiple ones we had before. President Brault thanked staff for their work on the system and thinks it looks great.
6) Under Managers Reports, Mike Matchen reported the course opened on Wednesday with golf cars and 105 golfers. The earliest the course has opened was February 25, 2008 and last year the course opened on April 3. One of the reasons the course was able to open was that there was no frost in the ground over the winter. The range has been closed and the nets will go up next Wednesday. We have not brought in any extra help so far this season since there was not a lot of debris leftover from the winter. There are currently two seasonal workers who work three days a week during the winter and there is a former “unemployment” worker who is at the course three days a week. In an effort to reduce expenses, no additional staff will be brought in until April.
In regard to the Golf Master Plan, Mike and Jamie have been reviewing preliminary designs of each hole with designer Greg Martin. The firm of Gewalt Hamilton has been at the course for four days so far and plan to be here for another five or six days for surveying. They are also working on the wetland delineation. Mike will be meeting on Monday afternoon with representatives from Gewalt Hamilton, Greg Martin, and the chief engineer of MWRD in order to get a sense of what the MWRD is looking for. The only surprise so far is how much of the course is in a “flood way” versus a “flood plain”. The difference between these two classifications is that with a flood way there are low areas where a swale way with water can move back to the river. A flood plain is what constitutes 35-40 percent of the course. The flood way on our course is all of the 14th hole and then out in front of #15 and is considered a subset of the flood plain. This process would include raising the middle of the fairway on #14 and the landing area off the tee but out in front of the tee a larger swale would be created.
Mike Matchen added that the MWRD will likely tell us we need to increase “green” initiatives such as rain gardens which would be looked upon favorably during the permitting phase. It also opens up the possibility of obtaining grants for water quality improvements. Mike added it could take the entire year to work through the process due to the amount of time it takes for the permitting process. We may also have to involve the Army Corp of Engineers along with the MWRD. As a result, it could be four or five months and with the MWRD it could take three or four months. It is planned to start the process with the Village of Wilmette in November. Director Wilson added that once the permits are issued, there is a three-year window to get the work done. Commissioner Murdock asked when will be we talking about costs. Mike Matchen replied it would start with getting the permits and having firm numbers which would probably be in January. Commissioner Murdock asked when the Committee would be talking about fee structures for the members during the two-year construction period. Director Wilson replied we can talk about it whenever the Committee wishes to. President Brault stated he thought that issue was sent back to the Financial Planning Committee in regard to funding the project. Commissioner Murdock added the Committee just wants to keep the members informed.
Mr. Fred Watson stated it seems as if the golf course renovation has been one of the most unreported items in the press. He asked that since there have been questions from members will there be something in writing to indicate where the project stands so far. Director Wilson replied the web site is updated regularly. Fred asked that in light of Winnetka’s golf course issues and budget deficit have there been any questions as to why Wilmette is investing in its course while Winnetka is having problems.
Director Wilson replied that when comparing budgets, Wilmette still has an operating surplus and although there are some deficits we have been able to make transfers. In general, our course operates on a different financial basis than Winnetka does. Commissioner Olvany added that the revenue lines are very similar but the expense lines are dramatically different. Director Wilson stated Winnetka also has 27 holes so they have more property which explains why their labor costs are higher. Superintendent Bowen stated we also drastically reduced our labor costs from over $40,000 to about $10,000 last year. Mike Matchen explained a part of those expenses at Winnetka were due to drainage problems and they also had built up a very large staff over a long period of time. However, they had reduced staff as some full-time employees retired.
Commissioner Murdock stated that at our meetings there are usually some photos of projects being done around the course and asked if staff was deferring those because of the master plan. Mike Matchen replied staff was not deferring any construction projects. He explained that while working through the master plan process, staff will be determining exactly where everything will be next winter including moving trees as we work through the permitting process. There will also most likely be a total of ten fairways that will be re-graded with large tiles to help drainage. Other areas will receive additional drainage as well once it is determined where those areas are located. In addition, staff is waiting for specifications on a 60-foot high fence for the range nets which was a budgeted item. At this point, we are not doing anything since we are not sure if the driving range will be a part of the master plan in regards to a retention area. All of this is dependent upon what the MWRD does. There is also a possibility we might have to do add some low grass in the retention area.
Mike Matchen provided further information on the new golf ball machine and all of the electronics that go with it. It was originally budgeted for $15,000 and the bid came in at $15,425. This machine will be able to hold more than three times the amount of balls that the existing one holds. It will also have a pin system which integrates with RecTrac so that when people receive a receipt, they will be able to punch in their PIN number which is random and not sequenced. As a result, we will be able to save about $2,500 to $3,000 per year in labor. In the future if we wanted to accept credit cards, the machine has that capacity. The controls will allow us to do things like group lessons and camps with a fob or a card and be able to track the golf balls that are distributed to each of the District’s camps, lessons, etc.
The new tractor for the range was budgeted at $17,000 and Mike was able to find a truck through a Lake County bid for approximately $10,000. It is also the same tractor the course currently has which we have used for 18 years. We will be taking the cage off the old truck and transferring it to the new tractor. Mike is still waiting to get a price for a trade-in which could mean an additional $1,000.
Commissioner Murdock stated there have been conversations in the past about glow-in-the-dark balls at the course. Mike replied he has been asked about them but has not yet followed-up.
7) Old Business: None
8) New Business: Commissioner Olvany stated he has talked with Jamie about a new program from the PGA of America called “Golf 2.0” Jamie stated there are some excellent ideas in this program but they do not really relate to our course since we are already doing a lot of what this plan is promoting. Our course is also different than a lot of others and we do better business and have more loyal fans.
Commissioner Olvany stated his reaction was similar to what Jamie stated. For example, we already promote the game with younger children in our Tiny Aces program. We are also promoting the game with women and some of the other demographic groups as well. Commissioner Olvany stated he feels when we move ahead with the master plan, we will be spending a lot of money and losing some as well so eventually we will need to be proactive. Being different is a good thing but we must be able to defend it. Customer service is the most important thing we offer.
9) Commissioner Brault moved and Commissioner Murdock seconded a motion to adjourn to Closed Session for discussion of the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of a specific employee(s) of the District per Section 2(c)1 of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.
By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Brault, Murdock, and Olvany; voting No -- None. Absent – Commissioner Shelly. Motion carried.
The Committee meeting adjourned to Closed Session at 8:33 am.
The Regular Committee meeting was reconvened at 8:44 am.
Commissioner Olvany moved and Commissioner Murdock seconded a motion to approve including the Tiny Aces and Junior Elite golf programs as part of the Employee Incentive Plan.
By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Brault, Murdock, Olvany; voting No -- None. Absent – Commissioner Shelly. Motion carried.
10) There being no additional business, the Regular Committee meeting was adjourned at 8:45 am.
MINUTES APPROVED ON MARCH 14, 2012.