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TAX THE CULPRIT AS COST OF GOLF RISES AGAIN

SHARE TAX THE CULPRIT AS COST OF GOLF RISES AGAIN

The good news is, Utah golfers will have some extra coins in their pockets to mark their balls with.

The bad news is, the cost of golf is going up in Utah again.Many Utah golfers will be in for a surprise next month when the price of golf increases at most courses. They'll be paying odd amounts like $7.44 or $9.56 for their golf rounds, leaving them with more pocket change, but less money overall.

Starting July 1, the price of golf will increase by 6.25 percent, which is the amount of sales tax that will be charged to a round of golf.

In a move that didn't get too much attention because it came in the final hours of this year's session, the Utah Legislature approved a bill to tax all recreational activities throughout the state.

It applies to all activities, such as swimming, softball and tennis, but golfers will notice it most and likely contribute most of the added revenue from recreational activities.

The increase will be applied differently throughout the state, but most courses are planning to raise their prices.

In Salt Lake City, the tax will be added exactly, meaning for a $7 round, you'll pay $7.44 come July. The courses that charge $9 will now increase to $9.56.

In Ogden, the city council has approved a plan to round off the fees. For instance at the Mt. Ogden and El Monte courses, prices for a 9-hole round will go from $7 to $7.50.

Davis County's courses will also round their fees off at $7.50 and $15.00. "That makes it easier to administer," said Davis Park pro Brad Stone.

Then there's Mulligans, which is a privately owned operation. The prices will stay the same there and the owners will have to pay the state tax from existing fees.

Salt Lake's director of golf, Dick Alexander is sensitive to the increase because of all the flak the city has received in recent years over other increases. But he stresses that this is not a fee increase.

"Basically what golf will experience is a tax added on to the existing fee," he said. "We don't have any control of it at all."

Range balls will also be taxed, but according to Alexander, carts are already taxed and won't see a fee increase.

Mt. Ogden pro Steve Wathen said he has posted signs to warn golfers of the impending increase.

But at many other courses such as Murray Parkway, no signs have been posted and the increase may take golfers by surprise.

Murray will add the tax like Salt Lake, but golfers may perceive it as an increase in fees. The current price is $8 and because 6.25 percent of $8 is exactly 50 cents, the new price will be a convenient $8.50.

STRAY SHOTS: Salt Lake County's caddy program kicked off Friday with Salt Lake County officials on hand to tee it up with host pro Nolan Wathen at Mick Riley Golf Course. More than 50 teen-agers were chosen from among 150 applicants to participate in the initial program. County Commissioners Jim Bradley, Randy Horiuchi and Brent Overson joined Wathen as the first group to tee up with caddies. Golfers can use the caddies starting Saturday . . . Two Clubs For Kids Clinics sponsored by the Utah Section PGA and Smiths Food, will be held this week. The first will be Tuesday at The Homestead Golf Course in Midway and the second will be Wednesday at Mountain View Golf Course in West Jordan. Both clinics begin at 10 a.m. Immediately following the clinic, clubs and balls donated by Spalding will be donated to youngsters in attendance . . . Thirty golfers qualified for the Men's State Amateur Wednesday at Hobble Creek Golf Course, led by Gary Hatfield, who shot a 67 . . . Entries are being taken for the Marathon Golf Fore Sight, which will be played Aug. 10 at The Homestead GC. Each golfer plays a minimum of 36 holes and gets 20 pledges. All funds go to the National Society to Prevent Blindness-Utah Affiliate.