According to City Manager Kenny Smith, the city ran the golf course for many years, but ran it at a loss. Due to the salaries and benefits of tenured city employees, the city lost $300,000 to $400,000 per year. In February 2005, the city leased the course to King Management Group, which replaced the full-time employees with part-time employees who do not draw benefits.
Although the move helped reduce losses, it was not enough. This year, the company is projected to lose $115,000.
“There’s just not enough rounds of play due to competition in the area to make it a profitable venture, or even a break-even venture,” Smith said at the Tuesday Griffin Board of Commissioners meeting.
Charles King, president of King Management Group, wants to find a solution that will benefit both his company and the city.
“We’re trying to come to some compromise that’s beneficial to the city and myself to run the golf course,” he said.
He said he wants to operate the course so that neither party is a financial burden to the other.
Some ideas from King’s accountant were floated at the meeting. Among these ideas were the possibility of the city subsidizing King by reducing his rent to $1 per month, which would save him $12,000 per year, and the city assuming responsibility for the cost of fuel, irrigation and utilities.
“We want to spend as least money as we can,” he said, in pursuit of making the golf course self-sufficient.
There are other options for the golf course. The city could resume direct management of the course.
“We feel like for a full fiscal year, we could operate it at a loss of $150,000,” Smith said.
The city would continue King’s policy of using only part-time employees, which would reduce costs.
Another option would be to close the course altogether, a move that was unpopular with the commissioners. Commissioner Rodney McCord plays golf there, as does the husband of Commissioner Joanne Todd.
At the Tuesday meeting, Todd spoke in defense of keeping the golf course functioning.
“I think we have to do everything possible to keep it open,” she said later. “It serves at least 2,000 golfers. 2,000 people are a lot of people in and around Griffin.”
She said people can walk up to the city golf course and pay $20 to play a round of golf, which is much less than at the private courses, which charge higher fees and often require invitations from existing members.
“We’re getting to the point here if you don’t have a lot of money, you won’t have a lot of options for recreation in the city of Griffin and that’s a crying shame,” she said.
Todd also said keeping the golf course open would be a good means of attracting new residents to the city.
“You’ve got to give people a reason to move to your community,” she said.
She said many retired couples are moving to Griffin and the men often like to play golf. At the meeting, she cited the golf course provided by Sun City Peachtree as a reason why people are moving there.
Commissioner Dick Morrow took the other side. He said there is not enough demand in Griffin for golf courses. He said he has concerns about subsidizing the golf course.
“Any activity that is not self-supporting has to have a consideration of balance - is the activity worth the subsidy?” he asked.
He said there are two golf courses in Griffin proper and others in the general area and asked if the service of providing a place for playing golf would be better provided by the private sector.
However, Morrow was the only commissioner in favor of closing the golf course.
“I’m not convinced of that (the wisdom of keeping the course open) but I’m outvoted,” he said. “Obviously the will of the commission is that we continue the service.”
He said he is not inclined to continue pushing the issue, so for him now, the question is how to go about running the golf course.
“What’s the best way to do that (subsidize the golf course) and the most cost-effective?” he asked.