In 2007, the Lake Bluff Park District lost $74,000 from their Golf Fund. In 2008, that number ballooned to a loss of $137,000. According to the 2010 Proposed Budget, the Golf Course Fund 2009 loss is projected to be $335,700. For 2010, the Park District apparently hopes to turn things around and is only budgeting a loss of $184,277.
With the revelation of these startling losses, the Lake Bluff Park District joins the Park District of Highland Park (12/31/2009 losses of $268,006) and the City of Highland Park (12/31/2008 losses of $129,102) in the Municipal Golf Operators Red Ink Club. And Lake County, which operates three municipal courses, is struggling to stay out of the Red Ink Club with two of its three courses losing money.
It should be additionally noted that these are not just recent numbers. This is not some kind of response to the bursting of the Tiger Woods bubble. The decline in golf revenue and the impact on golf courses is long standing over almost a decade. According to J. J. Keegan, who runs Golf Convergence, a golf-course consultancy, almost three times as many golf courses closed as opened in the United States last year. We are talking about a sport in serious retreat.
It is in this environment that the Lake County Forest Preserve District is considering the development of a new golf course at Fort Sheridan (stifle chuckle here). To help them out the Forest Preserve District has included on their advisory committee representatives from the Park District of Lake Bluff, The City of Highland Park, and the Park District of Highland Park. That is, the members of the Municipal Golf Operators Red Ink Club are gathered to deliberate on the addition of yet another golf course to compete for the attention of a diminishing number of golfers that can’t support the courses that already exist.
This is a farce. The fact that this matter is even being considered is a bad joke. The failure of our elected officials from these cities, park districts and the county to not bring this matter to a quick resolution and terminate any further consideration of yet another money losing golf facility reveals a leadership gap. I’m hoping some will step forward to fill this space.
Information derived from Lake Bluff Proposed 2010 Budget. J.J. Keegan data quoted from New York Times, 3/22/10, “The Tiger Bubble.”