A $3.5 million municipal golf course is feasible in Orem if it's open Sundays.
Otherwise, a much-less-expensive course should be built, say experts brought in by the City Council to look at the possibilities.Peter Elzi, representing THK Associates Inc., hired to conduct a feasibility study, said this week a golf course that does not offer Sunday play would not attract financing from lenders outside the area.
Elzi said he assumed the city would want to finance a course with revenue bonds rather then through general-obligation bonds.
"We've assumed the golf course you want would be open Sundays," Elzi told the City Council. "If it's to be closed on Sundays, you take what you can spend from $3.5 million (down) to $1.5 million."
The $3.5 million would pay for construction of an 18-hole course in the west area of the city, including a 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot clubhouse, a maintenance shed and greens built on relatively flat land.
Land would need to come through private donation or already be owned by the city, Elzi said. The purchase of real estate was not included in the building cost.
A golf course in Provo Canyon would be more beautiful and exceptional but would cost closer to $8 million, he added.
"If you decide to move forward with this, tell your architects to design within your budget," he advised.
Elzi said his company's research shows the region could support three more 18-hole courses.
More women are taking up golf as well as more youths. Participation across the nation is up to 18 percent of the population. In Orem, Elzi said, participation would be 16 percent.
"We would suggest there is a significant pent-up demand for public golf courses," he said. "You could expect to draw support from 49,000 golfers demanding 480,000 rounds of golf."
Realistically, a single course can supply 50,000 rounds in a year.
Within 18 months, a city course could be operating at capacity, he said, and bringing in income of $600,000 a year.
To do this, Elzi suggested green fees be set at a competitive and affordable rate to ensure the course's success - $8 for nine holes and $15 for 18 holes. The going rate in the Salt Lake region is $17.75 for 18 holes.
Kevin Stratton, an owner of Cascade Fairways in northeast Orem, registered his objections to the city's plan to get into the management of golf courses.