Update for March 26, 2015
Council backs golf course upgrades
By William Hoover
Hondo Golf Course Superintendent Jerry Busby on Monday reported to City Council on his progress at improving play on the nine hole municipal links and ask for funding of new projects to hopefully boost revenues.
He told council that patrons reported enjoying the new signage and other amenities council recently approved purchasing for the course.
“Business this month and last has been great,” said Busby. “We are having about 40 people show up for our Wednesday night tournaments, which is fantastic. We have a lot of tournaments planned.
“The next one is this Saturday,” he said of the upcoming Relay for Life tournament.
Busby passed out photographs of the golf course showing the recent improvements.
“We hung a new sign on our building, proposed by the Golf Course Advisory Board,” he said. “It is a bigger sign with the Hondo logo. It actually says ‘Golf Course Pro Shop’ and has our phone number on it.”
“We put some benches on the driving range and people are loving those,” he said. “We put up a mailbox with score cards and pencils in it for walking golfers. We have our ball washers with the towels hanging from them in the right locations.”
The new aluminum hole location signs with marked distances to the tees are now in place, according to Busby.
“It is simple, clean and pretty,” he said of the sign design. “We’ve had a lot of comments on these improvements. We eradicated the weeds and we fertilized the fairways and greens right before the rain, which helped a lot.”
“The greens and fairways are looking great,” he added. “Because of all that, business is picking up.”
Business has been so good, Busby said he has had to turn a couple of people away from recent tournaments for lack of golf carts.
“That is a good problem to have,” he told council. “Hopefully, next year I can come and beg for more carts -- if business keeps growing the way it is now.”
Busby proposed eight other projects with the potential to increase play at the course and boost revenues as well.
“The first is a back stop rebuild on tee box #9,” he said. “It will cost $2,762.61 and it needs to be done. It is a safety issue.
“The second project is restroom repairs,” he said of a minor $226.50 cost. “Project three is our pro shop painting and furniture updating for $13,791. We will replace our old sunken couch and love seat with new ones. We also want new high top tables for golfers to sit at after their rounds. We’d also like a TV with a wall mount. We want to rip up the old carpet and put down new non-slip tile.”
“For project four, I’d like to light up the driving range,” he said of the $4,500 project. “I’d like to put two light poles up behind the driving range tee box so we can keep the range open later. The driving range is a great avenue for business. It is a good money maker. People love hitting balls.”
Project five is the acquisition of a new utility vehicle and Buffalo (leaf) Blower for an estimated $14,597.
“I’d like a Mule or Gator-type vehicle with a little bed on the back of it that dumps,” said Busby. “We’d use turf tires on it so it doesn’t mess up the grass. The Buffalo Blower would be used to blow off our cart paths and greens. It is a great tool. Compared to a backpack blower, this does it in a split second.
“Project six: I’d like to purchase three Bag Boy pull carts for walking golfers to rent,” he said, noting the cost would be an estimated $420. “We only have one usable cart now. This will increase revenue.”
Project seven is the creation of two beach volleyball courts adjacent to the golf course’s barbecue grills, while project eight is the creation of washer and horseshoe pits.
“I’d like two beach volleyball courts to generate more income during our golf tournaments,” said Busby. “I’d also like to hold volleyball tournaments there. If I can get this going, it will be great for Hondo and draw a lot of business to the golf course itself. With the lights, we could have great times in the evening.
“The washer and horseshoe pits could also generate more income for the golf course through tournaments,” he added. “My grand idea is to have all those going at the same time -- the washer pits, the driving range lit up at night, and the volleyball court. It could be like a little sports complex.”
“Will your normal budget for the golf course take care of the rest of the year?” asked Mayor Jim Danner.
“We are on track to come in under budget, actually,” said Busby.
“How many members do you have?” asked Place 1 Councilman John McAnelly.
“Right now we have 15 paid members and it is getting better,” said Busby. “When I started at the course, we had five. Our rental of sheds has picked up too.”
Litchfield noted he is requesting a series of budget amendments totaling $41,500 to fund Busby’s proposed golf course projects.
“I want to go ahead and ask for the lights, but I want to hold off on that until we find out how much it will cost for the electricity to power them,” he said. “We also want to make sure the lights are compatible with outdoor lighting deed restrictions. We are near the airport, so we have to follow all of that.”
The city manager reminded council that in October of last year the golf course’s annual budget of $272,050 was reduced by $53,698.
“We had one amendment for $700 for those signs,” he said. “Tonight, we are asking another $41,500. Even with all these improvements, we will still be $11,500 less than what our original budget was for the golf course.
“What we are trying to do now is increase play and revenue,” he added. “I can see kids out playing volleyball or pitching washers while daddy is over at the driving range hitting a bucket of balls.”
“I guess the proof will be in the pudding next budget year; how our income has increased to offset some of these expenses,” said Danner, concluding the discussion.
Council unanimously approved the budget amendment for the golf course, totaling $41,500.
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