Facing ongoing costs to maintain its greens and fairways, and declining membership, Ladysmith Golf Course was hoping town council would agree at its Monday, Feb. 1, meeting to take over grounds keeping on the course.
But Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture Clayton Postings said it would cost $30,000, on top of $6,000 already provided to the club, to take over the grounds keeping duties, and council agreed that can’t be accommodated in the 2016 budget.
Instead, council agreed that the future of the golf course will be considered as part of the Parks, Recreation and Culture master plan process, that is currently underway, and any financial relief that might come to the golf course will have to wait until 2017.
In the meantime, the club’s board will have to consider how to get more people onto its fairways, and more money coming into its coffers – a challenge that has a chicken and egg dimension to it.
“The challenge is that it’s difficult to reverse the declining trend of participation at the golf course, even more difficult if the course is not in good condition,” Mayor Aaron Stone pointed out during discussion of the club’s request.
He agreed with Postings’ suggestion that the future of the course needs to be considered as part of Ladysmith’s Parks, Recreation and Culture master plan. “I’m hoping there’s some significant discussion around it,” he said.
Things were made worse for the nine-hole par 3 course in December 2014 when a culvert collapse at the seventh hole eliminated a gorge crossing that allowed players to complete holes eight and nine.
So far no feasible plan for fixing that damage has been figured out. Cost estimates for replacing the culvert with a bridge ranged from $250,000 to $450,000. The only other option discussed was to fit all nine holes on the south side of the gorge.
Despite reasonable green fees – last year it cost $14 to play nine holes, $20 for 18 – fewer players are using the course.
President Mike Smith said the board is looking for a less expensive way of replacing the crossing. He said it’s essential the greens be in good shape to attract players.
“If the greens are in good shape, they will come,” he told council. “If the greens are in bad shape, and the fairways are in bad shape, they will probably give it a pass.”