WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
GOLF OPERATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: December 8, 2012
Place: Wilmette Golf Club
Time: 9:30 am
Commissioners: Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Shelly
Staff: Bowen, Eppelheimer, Locke, Matchen, Wilson
Visitors: See Attached List
Topics of Discussion
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes:
a) October 13, 2012
3) Communication and Correspondence
4) Managers Reports
a) 2012 Golf Report
5) Golf Course Architect’s Report
6) 2012 Golf Users Meeting
7) Old Business
8) New Business
1) The meeting was called to order at 9:30 am.
2) The Committee approved the minutes of the October 13, 2012 Committee meeting by General Consent.
3) Under Communication and Correspondence, letters received included one from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in regard to the submission of the golf course project which was approved. Also included was a letter from Tom Bonnie with suggestions for the project which will become part of the meeting minutes.
4) Under Managers Reports, Golf Course Manager Mike Matchen reported the course is still open and golf cars are running so everyone is welcome to play after the meeting this morning. He reported that the golf course opened early in the season and will probably close late in the fall. In addition, this is the first time in history that the course had not lost a full day due to the dry conditions this summer although the course was closed on some partial days. The bottom line revenue is projected to finish close to $106,000 over-budget. There was a total of 523 memberships for the year which is close to last year’s figure although down a bit. We did lose a few of the non-resident memberships, mostly in the ladies leagues since their number in general has gone down somewhat.
Revenue for the driving range revenue this year is projected to total over $105,000. The new golf ball machine, better controls, and excellent weather helped to make the season successful. Our junior golf programs such as Tiny Aces, Junior Golf Academy and other golf camps helped to increase participation.
The pro shop is nearing a total of $197,000 in sales compared to $177,000 last year. Special thanks go to the members of the Women’s Golf Association and the Ouilmette Golf Club for their help in making 2012 a great year for the course and we will continue that good relationship moving forward. Discussion at today’s meeting will also include what will be happening next year during the reconstruction of the course.
A very good response was received for this year’s Al McLean Junior Tournament which was run by the Illinois Junior Golf Association (IJGA) event for the first time. We provided the facility and they handled everything else and it turned out to be a great working relationship. As a result, staff will continue to work with them on future tournaments.
In the Golf Maintenance area, there was not one full day that the course was closed due to rain and statistics indicate it had been drier this year than it has been in a long time. The large fan behind #6 green worked out well and also offered an escape for the golfers on those hot and humid days. During the winter, Golf and Parks staff will continue taking down diseased trees. In the fall, staff will be stumping all of the trees that were taken down during the summer.
Rounds of play currently total over 41,000 for the year and we will most likely finish close to 42,000 depending on the weather. Our golf lottery had 61 groups participate which is about the same number as last year and two years ago there were 58 groups.
5) Golf Course Architect Greg Martin began by saying he will be talking about what he’s has been working on over the past six months, why he did some things the way he did, and provide insight on what is going to happen in the next year and half. The three declared purposes of the master plan are to improve the turf conditions specifically as it relates to drainage, provide greater enjoyment and playability, and less maintenance.
He then presented the actual technical drawings prepared to date which not only includes a lot of drainage plans but also illustrates the complexity of the issues at the course. There will also be some improvements made including the new bios wale between the pond on #11 and #16 and the expansion of the pond on #17. He also provided additional information on the flood plain and flood way.
Greg stated a third of the golf course is regulated as a flood way/plan and we are close to what we need to do on #14 and #15. There are also several regulatory agencies that have a say in what we can or cannot do which again illustrates the complexity of the work. When we started moving dirt, we need to be in compliance from all of these agencies.
Greg then presented a hole-by-hole description of the work to be accomplished which included taking the willow trees down. He stated his job is to make sure everyone enjoys the game of golf, either with a high or low handicap. The course is great but we want to make it a little better. He added that there have been a few suggestions from the golfers as well but there are a few things that we do not have a choice in whether we do them or not such as the grading plan and expansion of wetlands. In regard to the trees, if they are not taken down they will fall down anyway.
A visitor at the meeting asked if any changes would be made to make the course more interesting for the slightly above or better golfer. Greg replied that whenever he gets a project like this, there is always an impassioned crowd who want to make the course tougher. However, there are also a lot of golfers who don’t want it to be more difficult. The golf industry has experienced a lot of problems over the past 30 years since it has driven away the novice and average golfers. His job is to make sure that the difficulty is still there for the better golfer and to make sure the course is still challenging.
In addition, the willow trees are interesting but they do nothing for the course so by removing them we will be able to add a bunker and change the approach to that green. This will result in one of the best views of the entire golf course which is currently being obstructed.
Mike stated that depending on how the bids come back, the first 11 greens for rebuilding will be 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16. How many more there will be depends on how the bids come back and anything that is not rebuilt will be re-grassed. The general theme of the greens will be closest to what is currently on 18 green. We will also be re-grassing the putting greens at the same time.
Greg stated we have come a long way in terms of drainage so far even though we will not be able to stop the course from flooding. However, we will be able to enhance its recovery more quickly with less turf damage, by getting the water off the course faster.
Mike stated that the greens conditions when the course opens will be tender but dense and when the course will be ready to handle the traffic. The greens condition will continue to improve and will be in even better shape the following year when staff will not need to “baby” them as much. We will also be using a lower height of cut and a more aggressive maintenance program as far as sand topdressing and verticutting. On the greens that are rebuilt, the grass will take a longer time to develop since there will not be any thatch build-up the first year. The greens that are not rebuilt and only regrassed will recover more quickly. They will also be ready when we open and will improve as time goes by.
Greg provided some numbers related to the project. He stated the plan is to move about 27,000 yards of dirt and redistributing it throughout the course and not removing any from the site. There will be about 14,000 linear feet of drainage, 120 catch basins, 11 greens for sure and potentially 13 greens, 50 tees, and 53 bunkers added to the course. The fairways and greens will be redressed, cart paths added, ponds expanded, wetlands added, and new bios swales introduced to hold drainage..
He indicated he has a preliminary engineering set which contains all of the technicalities and the final product should be completed by February 15. The plan is to start the bidding process sometime in March and have it approved hopefully in the first or second week or April. The rest of the schedule consists of having a pre-construction meeting at the end of June and construction starting at the end of July. The construction of the greens is scheduled to be completed by September 10 and green seeding by September 21. It is a tight schedule and fairly aggressive but it is hoped to get everything done and that we will have it substantially completed by November 15. Weather permitting, it is hoped to have the course finished sometime around Memorial Day 2014.
6. Director Wilson stated that last year at this time the Committee reviewed the construction options and selected Option #4. Discussion then followed on a proposal that 25% of the total project cost be paid by the users. That discussion progressed at both the Golf and Financial Planning Committees as well as at the recent 2013 Proposed Budget meeting. As a result, the Committee wanted to hear feedback from the golfers on the different ways this could be accomplished. He stated that 25% of the $2 million cost would equal $500,000 and the district would be looking for a shorter rather than longer payback time, around five-years. This process is similar in nature to what we did when we added the per-round surcharge related to the previous debt that was issued for an earlier golf course project. In order to accomplish that, a five-year payback would mean a $3 surcharge.
Director Wilson added another way that this 25% of the cost would be handled is through membership fees. Our fees would then total $462,000 and generate an extra $100 per year which is a 22% fee on top of memberships. The difference would be that only members would have the surcharge, not all users at large.
The third option is somewhere in the middle of the first two options wherein the everyday golfers pays a surcharge and then the membership can elect to prepay that amount. We are all aware it would be about $100,000 for five years so we are looking to hear from the users what they would prefer although we could achieve some efficiency if we issue the debt all at once.
Mike stated that all of the prices are fairly similar compared to other courses in the area. As a result, he doesn’t think we will be chasing golfers away.
Director Wilson stated that unlimited players would also pay the per round surcharge. This could be accomplished by determining a flat rate for each unlimited membership that would be in addition to the membership fee.
A visitor from the audience stated he would not be in favor of paying a per round surcharge and he would prefer a onetime additional fee.
Under Old Business, Frank Charhut commended the Committee for booking the USGA Wilmette Amateur Public Link Qualifying Round in Wilmette this past May and was informed that weather permitting, it is hoped to have the course finished sometime between Memorial Day 2013 and June 15, 2014.
Greg added that there will be no construction done over the winter and that we need to get the grass in by this time next year when the contractors will be gone. Director Wilson added that when the contractors go through the bid process, they are going to have to exhibit the capacity to bring in equipment and a crew to get the job done. Mike Matchen added that the bidders were pre-qualified.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:53 am.
Minutes taken by J. Bowen.
MINUTES APPROVED JANUARY 12, 2013.