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PROVO OKS BOOST IN GREEN FEES

SHARE PROVO OKS BOOST IN GREEN FEES

With little opposition from golfers and a compromise from city administrators on season passes, the Provo City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved fee increases at East Bay Golf Course.

The main changes were an increase of 50 cents on green fees for each nine holes and a $25 increase in seven-day season passes. It will now cost $15 to play 18 holes at East Bay on weekdays and $16 on weekends. Seven-day passes will now cost $425. Rates for other passes, carts, punch cards, range balls and rental equipment will not change.However, the city no longer offers a five-day pass. The rates for weekday passes were not increased, but weekday pass holders can no longer use their pass on Fridays. The course also will start charging the higher weekend green fees for Fridays.

Mayor George Stewart first proposed putting a limit of 50 on the number of seven-day passes sold. East Bay golf pro Kean Ridd said the city sold 46 seven-day passes last year. Council members convinced the mayor, however, that more residents might want to buy seven-day passes next season because the weekday pass is no longer valid on Fridays. Stewart agreed to be flexible on the 50-pass ceiling.

"I don't want to force Provo golfers to play elsewhere if they want to buy a pass at East Bay, especially when residents of other cities can buy the passes," Stewart said.

The mayor said he just doesn't want most of the more-profitable weekend rounds consumed by pass holders. Most pass holders play for about $3 per round. Ridd said pass holders using most weekend tee times has not been a problem in the past, and it likely won't be a problem next season.

All of the changes were recommended by the Provo Golf Course Committee and are part of the mayor's efforts to increase revenues at East Bay. He says the city will not subsidize the course, especially since private companies have offered the city money to take over operations.

"If this course can't operate at a profit under the current structure, then we will lease it out," Stewart said.

Final figures show the course lost about $24,000 last year. The course is operating profitably so far in the 1995 fiscal year, but the slower spring months are still ahead. Also, the course operated last summer without a greens superintendent.

Stewart said increased revenues will be used to hire a highly qualified greens superintendent and to complete several other capital projects on the course. The changes only will be made with an increase in fees, he said. Councilman Karl Thalman said most golfers don't oppose the fee increases as long as the money is spent on improving the course.

"All of the money that's going to come from the increases is going to go right back into East Bay," Thalman said.

Several council members expressed concern that the city might be pricing itself out of the local golf market, considering East Bay operates at about 80 percent capacity when other local courses operate at full capacity.

"I'd like to see them call us first because they can play here cheaper," Councilman Jim Daley said.

Stewart said those that golf East Bay will continue to do so because of its central location and accessibility. Council members finally agreed to favor the increases if that's what it takes to complete the capital projects and keep the course in city hands. Thalman said golfers also are willing to pay more to keep the course under city control.

"As far as the golfers are concerned we won 80 percent of the battle," he said.

Some golfers, however, don't like the city complaining about subsidizing the course when it subsidizes parks and other recreational program in the city. Daley agreed that subsidizing the golf course is no big deal when the city spends $3.2 million on other recreational programs.