In a recent decision Winnipeg City Hall has agreed to begin the process of selling John Blumberg Golf Course, while at the same time voting against contracting the management of the other four city courses: Kildonan, Windsor Park, Harbour View and Crescent Drive.
Having been a shareholder and manager of the Lorette Golf Course and manager of the LaVerendrye Golf Course, my personal opinion is that the City should privatize their golf courses. Winnipeg has one of the lowest golf fees in Canada because the city has been subsidizing fees for their municipal courses keeping them artificially low. While this a good for the average golfer, it is causing grief for the surrounding courses. This is because the low fees make it difficult to make a reasonable return on investment; in order to properly maintain the courses, as well as stay up-to-date with proper equipment and make investments to improve the courses our golf courses must begin making more money. In addition, our golf season in Winnipeg is very short (especially this year) which makes it hard to bring in enough profit to adequately maintain the courses.
Essentially the City of Winnipeg is in competition with the private sector, who can’t afford to lose any money while the municipal government apparently can. If we privatize the golf courses, the free market will adjust prices automatically through competition.
In addition, I believe that using union workers is keeping courses from running at full capacity due to the limitations placed on employees by their job descriptions: individuals hired to cut grass can only cut grass and are not required or responsible for maintaining other aspects of the course, such as sand traps. I believe that cooperation is a necessary element to running a golf course effectively, and I believe that incentivizing employees to do the best job possible will result in better maintenance of the courses.
So there you have it: my two cents on the issue of golf courses in Winnipeg.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about this issue. Leave a comment with your thoughts!
I have not played a City course in years, but I do know that the City parks could use a lot of work. If the golf courses are the same, then things are getting bad. Going with private ownership may be the right call. In doing so, an injection of cash could bring back these lovely park style courses to their original splendour. Two decades ago, you could hardly get on to play a City course, now the parking lots are almost empty on a Sunday morning. Something needs to change.
You’re right Russ…two decades ago you had trouble getting on the City courses. At one time Windsor Park Golf Course was doing 35,000 to 40,000 rounds a year so I’m told.