More green to play greens

City approves small increases to Haymaker user fees

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Golfers who use the Haymaker Golf Course will have to pay a little more to play this season.

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a new rate structure for the course's 2006 season.

2005 rates 2006 rates

Pre-season individual season pass $875 $925

Resident punch card fees $375 $395

Resident, 18 holes $41 $43

Nonresident, 18 holes, Friday-Sunday $83 $89

(A resident is someone who lives in Routt County. Proof of residency can include a valid driver's license, property tax certificate or voter registration)

Under the new structure, the cost of an individual season pass increased by $50; the cost of an 18-hole round for residents increased by $2, and a nine-hole round for residents will cost $1 more than it did last year. Ten-round punch cards for residents will cost $20 more than last year.

The cost of an 18-hole Friday or weekend round for nonresidents will increase by $6, from $83 to $89.

Haymaker is a city-owned golf course funded in part by an accommodation tax.

John Vanderbloemen, chairman of the Golf Management Committee, said Wednesday that the increases are nominal, considering that greens fees for residents haven't changed since 2002. Nonresident rates last changed in 2003, he said.

The Golf Management Com-mittee has been working on the rates since fall and put a great deal of consideration into them, Vanderbloemen said. The rate hikes are necessary because the city-owned golf course is facing the same challenges as those confronting other businesses.

"I think everyone understands that there have been increases in insurance for personnel and fuel costs. Everybody has probably experienced increases in their business costs," he said. "We felt these were very reasonable increases."

The committee looked at tourist rates and tried to come up with a way to maximize revenues, Vanderbloemen said.

"We're trying to keep the local rate as low as we reasonably can, and we think there's good value if we can continue to derive tourist rounds to keep the local rounds affordable," he said.

To attract more tourists to the course, the committee devised a new element for the rate structure. Nonresidents -- those who live outside Routt County -- will pay less to play golf on weekdays than they do on weekends. Most tourists play during weekends, Vanderbloemen said, but he would like to see more of them on the links during the week. More weekday nonresident rounds will help keep greens fees for residents down, he said.

"The bottom line is that the committee and the city would like to keep rates affordable for locals. Periodically, I am sure there will be some increases. But we want to keep those rates low by having as much tourist revenue as we can," he said. About 75 percent of the people who play Haymaker are residents, he said.

In related news, construction of Haymaker's new clubhouse is on schedule, Vanderbloemen said. The $3.96 million clubhouse will replace a modular building used as the clubhouse since the course was built.

Vanderbloemen anticipates the clubhouse will be finished by the time the golf season begins, which usually is early or mid-May, though the heavy snow totals this winter could delay the course's opening.

The new clubhouse will include space for a pro shop, a restaurant, a covered rear porch and cart storage.

"It's going to be a beautiful space when it's completed," he said.

The City Council unanimously approved construction of the new clubhouse in October 2004. About 40 percent, or $1.5 million, of the project is being paid for by reserves generated in part by the city's accommodation tax. Approved by voters in 1986, the accommodation tax is a 1 percent tax on lodging and is designated for above-ground city amenities to promote tourism. Since the mid-1990s, the accommodation tax largely has been used to pay for the construction of the $4.9 million course and other course-related expenses.

The remainder of the clubhouse -- about $2.5 million -- will be paid through a lease-purchase agreement similar to those used by the city to fund the construction of Centennial Hall.

-- To reach Dana Strongin call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com.

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