Steamboat Springs With their decision to negotiate a new golf professional contract at Haymaker Golf Course and part ways with pro Hank Franks, city officials hope to maximize the course's potential and revenues with an increased focus on special events, tourist rounds and teaching.
Council voted Tuesday to accept the Golf Management Committee's recommendation to negotiate a contract with the partnership of two local men, Tom Taylor and Luke Brosterhous.
"They brought a real energy, a creativity and a passion to try and maximize the potentials at Haymaker and drive more business - both local business and out-of-town business - to the course," committee Chairman John Vanderbloemen said.
The change in direction, however, split council members and residents.
"What direction is this golf committee going to go in?" local golfer Darrell Jansa said at the council meeting.
Jansa said he couldn't imagine management of the course getting any better than it is under Franks, and he argued that the city was treating a longtime employee distastefully. Franks and his wife, Wendy, have run the golf course since it opened in 1997. Some council members agreed and said the city is fixing something that isn't broken.
"I'm not real comfortable with this change," Councilman Steve Ivancie said. "They have the experience, the reputation and the respect. I think we should keep them."
The decision to advertise the position after more than a decade with Franks was based on City Council direction during the budgeting process last year to re-evaluate all existing contracts as they expire. The city received six proposals for the position and interviewed three finalists, including Franks. The new contract will take effect Jan. 1.
Another local golfer at Tuesday's council meeting, Michael Turner, said he supports the golf committee's decision.
"It's a wonderful golf course and it's well run," Turner said. "But there has been a need for a slight improvement in management."
City Council President Loui Antonucci said it would be inappropriate to deny the golf committee's recommendation after it did exactly what council asked it to.
"I think we put our faith in them to do the right thing," Antonucci said. "The truth is we gave our golf committee a charge : and I think we need to take their recommendation."
Vanderbloemen stressed that the process was not conducted as a review of past performance but as an evaluation of the proposals brought forth after the city advertised the position.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate what (the Franks) have done for Haymaker over the years," he said.
Taylor has formerly served as an assistant pro at Haymaker and as head golf professional and teaching professional at Catamount Ranch and Club. Brosterhous has served as an assistant golf professional and teaching professional at Catamount and Haymaker. In their proposal, the two men said they will enhance existing tournaments, attract new ones, create new special events and increase their emphasis on junior golf programs.
"I think looking to the future, Haymaker needs to fulfill its potential and maximize its revenue," Vanderbloemen said. "The one area Haymaker has always struggled in is developing more tourist rounds and more tourist revenue to subsidize locals' rates. : If we don't, then over time the locals' rates need to increase."
Locals' greens fees increased about 5 percent across the board this year. Vanderbloemen said maximizing revenue is especially important as the city approaches the need to make a $1.5 million "balloon payment" on the course's clubhouse in 2013.
The golf professional is hired as an independent contractor for the city and is responsible for hiring and paying his or her own staff and serving as the chief operating officer for the course, pro shop and practice facilities.
Comparing the new proposal to Franks' current contract is difficult because of changes the city decided to make to its compensation structure for the position. In 2008, Franks received an $86,000 retainer, plus revenues from other sources such as golf lessons and equipment sales. In all, the city paid $171,477. For the new contract, the city decided to no longer pay the golf pro a percentage of revenues from motor cart rentals and the practice range. This resulted in requests for higher retainers. Franks requested a $180,000 retainer. Taylor and Brosterhous requested $172,000.