Superior National Golf Course is not competitive with other links in the region and we need to support it financially. That, according to city council member Jan Sivertson.
Can you afford not to? That’s the question we’re really asking. Can we afford not to? Because if it, I mean, if our economy is 60 percent tourism-based, can we let one of our major assets disintegrate?
There are three basic reasons why the golf course is in trouble, according to Sivertson – a declining number of rounds played, insufficient marketing and a lack of capital improvements. All are related to money.
Sivertson is the city’s representative on the Economic Development Authority and reported at the council’s Wednesday work session on a new private-public plan for Superior National. A group of West End businessmen and the golf course sub-committee are supporting a non-profit public-private entity to manage and market the golf course in association with the Cook County Events and Visitors Bureau.
According to golf course sub-committee member Mark Sandbo, the $25,000 per year marketing budget should be closer to $100,000. While golf rounds play nationally is a flat figure, the figures for Superior National are at their lowest. In 2001, rounds played at Superior National were 22,054. Last year that number bottomed out at 14,757. Sandbo blames the poor economy, lack of marketing and the inability to spend money on infrastructure upgrades.
In an interview Mayor Sue Hakes summed up the Superior National situation this way:
They are very concerned that the Superior National is losing money. They believe the cause of that is deferred capital improvements and lack of marketing. So, what they are proposing is a restructuring of the management to potentially have it leased out on a long-term basis to a to-be-formed non-profit and, also, they need money.