BROOKSVILLE — Despite efforts over the years to improve its appeal to golfers, the Quarry Golf Course has never attracted enough business to put it into the black. Year after year, the city has subsidized the nine-hole course, which was built during more prosperous times.
During budget hearings last summer, the golf course drew the ire of some residents, who contended it made no sense to prop up a facility that serves only a small segment of the community while other city services were being slashed. Despite a projected loss of $148,000 this year, City Council members backed away from any notion of closing the Quarry until a formal study of its viability could be completed.
At a workshop Tuesday, the council will take a look at its options concerning the facility, based on an assessment recently done by golf course designer Bobby Weed.
According to city parks and recreation director Mike Walker, Weed spent several weeks tracking the Quarry operation and evaluating ways to increase revenue.
Despite a terrain that makes it unique among local golf courses, the Quarry suffers from the same malady that affects many facilities in Hernando County — a large number of courses and not enough players to fill them. But among its greatest assets is the ease of play for senior citizens and beginners, segments of the market that Weed says are underserved in the community.
According to the study, the Quarry earned $126,000 in revenue from the roughly 10,500 rounds of golf played in 2009. While the $10 charged per round is competitive with what other local facilities charge, the course is considered a bargain for anyone not interested in playing a complete 18-hole round.
To increase revenue further, Weed suggests that the city consider adjusting rates to coincide with peak use times and offer pricing incentives to attract more golfers during off hours.
One suggestion that particularly interests Walker is the idea of expanding the hours of the Quarry's lighted driving range. By using an automated system to dispense golf balls to customers, the facility wouldn't have to be staffed by an employee.
"I think it would be a huge draw because it would be the only lighted driving range in the county," Walker said.
Although the course is often criticized for the staffing that is needed to maintain it, the study noted that further slashing of operating costs would probably not bring much of a financial benefit. The Quarry currently has one full-time and one part-time greenskeeper and one full-time and one part-time employee staffing the pro shop.
Despite the course's financial struggles, Walker said he has already seen encouraging signs that things at the Quarry are on the upswing since improvements were made last year. The First Tee, a program for young golfers that is affiliated with nine local elementary schools, was relaunched in January. He believes the soon-to-be-completed Brooksville Enrichment Center, which will feature a kitchen area where food and beverages can be served, will also help to pull in new revenue.
"There is no doubt that we have a lot of work to do to realize the Quarry's potential." Walker said. "But I think the message here (in Weed's study) is that there are a lot of things that are doable that won't take a lot of money to make happen."
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or email@example.com.