WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
GOLF OPERATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: August 11, 2012
Place: Wilmette Golf Club
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Commissioners: Crowley, Olvany, Shelly
Staff: Bowen, Locke, Matchen, Wilson
Visitors: Tom Bonnie, Bill Lemieux
Topics of Discussion
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes:
a) July 14, 2012
3) Recognition of Visitors
4) Communication and Correspondence
5) Managers’ Report
6) Old Business
7) New Business
1) The meeting was called to order at 8:30 am.
2) The Committee approved the amended minutes of July 14, 2012 which corrected the word “pounds” to “gallons” on page 2.
3) Under Recognition of Visitors, Tom Bonnie stated he had an issue with the Ladies League Guest Day which is similar to what he brought to the Committee at an earlier meeting. He stated the ladies league plays at the course four days per week as an exclusive group. He believes these types of events should not result in having a day taken away from public play since this is a public golf course. He stated, currently, the Park District allows what is essentially a private group to have three days of exclusive access to the course. Mr. Bonnie also doesn’t know of any other courses in the area who allow the ladies to have this type of schedule. He believes that having ladies league play every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in the mornings is enough and giving the ladies another day is too much which is what they did on a Wednesday for their one-day event. The Ladies League play also blocks up the course basically every morning that they play.
Mike Matchen stated that the ladies are members of the course and when talking about the ladies league playing on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, there are open tee times available before and after the leagues play. Their guest day is a one day event that came about when play in September was taken away from the ladies which resulted in a more condensed season for them. As a result, we condensed all of their leagues and narrowed them down from three guest days to one guest day. Mike also informed Mr. Bonnie that he has already started working with the ladies in regard to moving this one-day event to the month of September.
Commissioner Olvany asked that when the ladies play nine holes, do they play off from the first tee or the tenth tee. Jamie Locke responded that on Monday’s they always tee-off on #1. On Wednesday there was a 7:30 am shotgun start for the one-day event with a total of 101 players. The issue is that the 11th hole is too difficult for a lot of nine-holers. We currently have five leagues and the one day Ladies Guest day was very successful that brought in a over $4,000 in revenue to the course.
Chair Crowley asked that of our Ladies Leagues, how many of those leagues consist of the same people. Jamie responded that the course has a few leagues such as the WWGA, Tags 9-hole, and the EWAC that have been running for awhile. Chair Crowley also asked why the golfers join two leagues. Mike Matchen explained that it was because they have reserved times on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and each golfer is required to buy a membership whether they are a resident or a non-resident. As a result, the leagues contribute a substantial amount of money to the course.
Commissioner Shelly asked if there were men’s leagues. Mr. Lemieux responding as a representative of the Men’s Club stated that there are open times for everyone. The men’s league on Thursday has times late in the afternoon and early evening. Superintendent Bowen reiterated that members of the Men’s Club are also all members of the course. Mr. Lemieux added that the Men’s club, as opposed to weekday ladies leagues, tends to have one-day events in the afternoons and early evenings which have been more appealing to the men and has resulted in their membership numbers tripling in size. The ladies log a lot of rounds with their Monday-Thursday league so they are also an important part of the total rounds. The men’s Twilight league has 24 teams who play 18 weeks a year for a total of just under 1,000 rounds. The twilight league has 140 players.
Mike Matchen stated that in regard to using the back nine holes especially in June and July, there is a lot of play from 5 am off of #1. We would then have to restrict them to 9 holes since it would run right into league play. Last year the ladies asked if they could go back to playing in September and the reason why was that four or five years ago they did a very good job of consolidating their times each week. There had been an issue when we gave them a certain amount of tee times but then a lot of them did not show up. We then put the onus on them to condense those times and work with the pro shop to make sure we open up those times for open play. As a result, they have done an excellent job of condensing those times and keeping us informed so that we are not missing tee times. That is basically the reason we opened September back up because they are doing a good job of controlling what they actually use instead of just blocking out times and not using them.
Commissioner Olvany asked what the difference was between Saturday and Sunday standing tee times when groups of regular golfers go out and are not part of a team or league. Mike Matchen replied that these groups are majority male and have unlimited members who play in a foursome. There are some groups that have joined together and control and rotate the members of the foursomes to play with different people each week.
Mike further stated that in essence, the ladies leagues it is like a permanent tee time on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday and can run from 7:30 am until 10:30 am. The days of Monday and Tuesday have both 18-holers and 9-holers. Jamie stated that on Thursday, the EWGA runs from about 7:30 am to 9:30 am for 18 holes but there are no 9-holers on Thursday.
Mr. Bonnie stated there are women who are actually members of three separate leagues playing on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Mike Matchen added he would have to review the numbers but he doesn’t think there is more than one group now. Commissioner Olvany stated he doesn’t understand what the difference is between women who play in three different leagues and who receive three different and separate tee times compared to four male golfers who play on Saturday and Sunday with permanent tee times.
Mr. Bonnie replied the difference is that the season reserved lottery times are set up for people who are normally unable to play during the week. He stated he remembers when he was a park commissioner, there were 130 groups signed up for the lottery and the impact on this course was that if you wanted to play on Saturday or Sunday, the earliest time would be 2:30 pm.
He stated when he was on the park board they had to deal with this issue as well and try to figure out ways to open up access. At that time, the women also had leagues on Friday as well as Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. We then took them off that schedule and consolidated them into Thursday. We felt at the time it was necessary to open up access to a public course. We also did that with the lottery in that if someone no longer lived in Wilmette, they could not participate in it which meant we could open up play on the weekends. Mr. Bonnie stated he plays during the week and is retired and doesn’t want to come out on weekends during lottery times but would like to be able to have access to the course at reasonable hours, especially in the morning.
Commissioner Olvany stated he still does not understand the difference between the ladies playing on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at set times blocking time out for members and the people who play on Saturday and Sunday at set times blocking time out for those members. I understand that some people that can play during the week are unable to play on the weekends for the same reasons that people who play on the weekends can’t play during the week. He doesn’t know why Mr. Bonnie would want to restrict play for one group of members but not want to restrict another group of members.
Mr. Bonnie responded that if the course is going to allow what is essentially a private women’s league to have three days a week, the women should not be allowed to occupying a fourth day.
Commissioner Shelly stated they are not occupying a fourth day for the entire season, this was a one-time event. Mr. Bonnie stated that he still does not believe, given that the women have such a vast expanse of time from May to September, that the ladies league needs one additional day for any special event. The ladies 9-hole guest day was scheduled on one of their regular days which was fine with him but he disagrees with allowing them to basically take over the course for one additional day. Commissioner Shelly stated this was one day out of the entire summer and she disagrees with Mr. Bonnie. She added that one would assume women are as equal as men at our course.
Mr. Bonnie stated that no other public course in the area allows women leagues to occupy three days of the week, even partially. Wilmette is historically the only course to do so. Commissioner Shelly stated t she hears what Mr. Bonnie is saying about the guest day but that issue has been resolved. Monday is the day which has the smaller 18-hole group. Mr. Bonnie stated he does not have a problem with Tuesday and Thursday but when they receive four days per week that is a problem. Chair Crowley stated this outing was held once per year and he would tell everyone in the room today that their Guest Day outing is exactly what we’re calling it – an outing – and the course has many outings per season and they differ from the regular schedule.
Mr. Bonnie suggested that in regard to golf maintenance the course should be closed one morning a month so that the crew could perform the type of maintenance that cannot be done effectively when the course is open. This issue should be considered by staff moving forward. In addition, he recently played at Glencoe’s golf course and noticed there were not any “white circles” on their fairway. These markings indicate “ground under repair”. Chair Crowley asked Mr. Bonnie if he played today at our course, did he notice a number of areas that were marked off because of water in comparison to Glencoe’s course.
Mr. Lemieux commented that there are currently fewer areas of concern on our course especially in those areas where Mike has installed additional drainage over the last three or four years which he has done whenever he is able. For example, on the 4th fairway over the last couple of years there were a lot of white lines and a lot of gravel covering up where he replaced the old pipe. Wherever Mike has improved the drainage, the results of his efforts are showing up which can take a year or two. The course is playing well and Mike deserves a lot of credit for the work he’s doing, especially during the recent heat.
Mr. Lemieux also stated that in his experience, the pro shop has never been more outgoing, upbeat and friendly. The staff is customer-service oriented and has been more with the men’s club events such as the Tom Healy Classic this year than ever before which resulted in this year’s event being one of the largest with 128 players. Staff also has a “can-do” attitude at the pro shop which is an improvement from the past. He also believes there are a lot of positives to work off here and given the opportunity to have a larger program in terms of maintenance and repair would certainly result in even more benefits to the course.
5) Under Managers Reports, Jamie Locke reported there was a nice article in the Beacon about the Ladies League. Jamie will also be playing in a golf tournament on Wednesday with Fred Watson who was the senior champion last year. Rounds of play through today totaled 27,176 compared to 23,323 last year through today. As of this morning, pro shop sales stand at $125,150 compared to $106,588 the year before as of this morning. In 2010 we totaled $132,751 in sales. The course did $60,641 in range revenues last year at this point and we are currently at $77,640 which is a nice increase. The Junior Golf Academy for children ages 9- 13 and the Tennis/Golf Camp for children ages 8-13 have ended for the season. Kim McCombs and his staff did a terrific job and there were no injuries. The Tiny Aces program is for children age 5-8 and it has been very popular. The second session of Tiny Aces had a total of 104 participants. Most of the college pro shop staff will be leaving soon to go back to school.
Commissioner Olvany asked if there were any theories on why the month of July was down a bit in revenue. Superintendent Bowen replied the intense prolonged heat slowed down play somewhat. Jamie added that before the heat arrived, there was a long period of time when we were playing every day and the weather was good. Commissioner Shelly stated maybe some people were out of town at this time of year. Director Wilson added that other area courses have indicated they have had the same experience.
Mike Matchen reported that as a result of the hot and humid weather, staff backed off on some of their projects and has raised the height of the cut of greens and not topdressing for six weeks. On Thursday morning we sprayed for grubs all around the greens, fairways, roughs, tees, and tee banks after which we received 1.76 inches of rain which was perfect timing.
Mike Matchen showed some slides which included a photo of the resident hawk between #4 and #17 near one of the trees that will be taken down. Mike stated that Nels Johnson was also at the course on Wednesday morning taking down two large trees. There is also a dead ash tree between #4 and #17 as well as a large willow over on #11 down the left hand side that will be taken down. Staff from the Parks Department and Golf staff are working on taking down quite a few more trees as time permits.
Mike Matchen also showed a photo of a bioswale sample located in a residential area. So far to date, there have not been any issues with any of the four agencies we have been dealing with in regard to the Golf Master Plan and everything is moving along well.
A bioswale consists of a group of native plants in a low area so when there is a lot of rain, this area will become a collection area. On our course, the bioswale would be from the lake on 17, left to 17, to the lake on 11 and 12, then from there to across in front of the tees on 13 and then wrapping around and going along 17 tee and into the lake on 16.
Commissioner Olvany stated he has played at several courses that have bioswales. They look great but pace of play could be a major problem. Jamie stated we would have to make it an environmentally-sensitive area. Chair Crowley thought it was a great solution although we might need to have a couple of cut-throughs so that the golfers can egress through them. Mike stated they need to be kept narrow and then have soft slopes made around them so that you can mow these areas with regular mowers. They also become the flood areas if and when a flood occurs. Commissioner Olvany added these areas are really interesting and attract an interesting variety of birds.
Mike Matchen stated that in a couple of weeks staff will be meeting with the engineer and the architect to narrow down the project’s focus and in September we should be able to do the drawing of where we’re at and what the process will be. However, there will not yet be any bid documents. There have also been a number of adjustments based on grading that have to be done but so far no major roadblocks. Also, the fan on the sixth green is working out very well.
6) Old Business: None
7) New Business: None
8) There being no additional business, the Committee meeting was adjourned at 9:05 am.
Minutes taken by J. Bowen.
MINUTES APPROVED ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2012.