Duluth report paints bleak picture for 2 muni courses

A report on the two golf courses owned by the city of Duluth, Minn., has concluded that revenues will likely not be enough to cover expenses, fueling speculation the city may sell one of the courses. 

The Duluth Golf Citizen Advisory Committee was tasked by Mayor Emily Larson with exploring ways of running the Enger Park and Lester Park courses on a break-even basis. Currently, the two courses have a $2.4 million debt to the city’s general fund. Among the findings of the Committee was the observation that “Demand for golf is likely not sufficient to financially sustain the number of golf holes across the nation or in Duluth.”

The report found that 3,402 Duluth-area residents played 57,940 rounds of golf on the two courses. However, that number has been on a downward trend since 2000, when 108,000 rounds were played. The report further noted that the two municipal courses are competing with numerous public and private courses and clubs in the area.

The condition of the two courses (both of which are managed by Billy Casper Golf) was described as poor, and the report noted that the clubhouses, irrigation systems, and maintenance equipment all need extensive upgrades. The two clubhouses were built in 1927 and 1933, and the overall assessment of immediately required repairs totals $7.1 million.

A news report from a local TV station about the report noted that a local developer has inquired about purchasing the Lester Park course, and building housing on the 9-hole track and making the 18-hole course private.

The Committee’s report is available here


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