As a Highland Park resident, I remain discomfited by the city’s certitude in its support of the Fort Sheridan Golf Course. The city-owned Highland Park Country Club golf operation has lost over a million dollars in net assets in the last 5 years. The enterprise has borrowed and not paid back cash to the general fund to maintain operations.
And golf consultants have indicated that a new golf course at Fort Sheridan will further reduce rounds of golf at neighboring municipal courses by 5% to 10%. Yet, in the face of persistent bad financial news the city supports the new course*.
Recently, Highland Park released the audited 2009 performance of the Highland Park Country Club which includes its golf operations. Given the decade-long decline in the golf industry, we were expecting poor results. What we encountered was even worse than expected with a net loss of over $300,000 and a bottom line loss of total assets of over $600,000. This is not simply a bad year. This is the trend. Here’s a summary of the last 5 years:
Highland Park Country Club Financial Performance 2005 – 2009
|Change in Net Assets||($229,144)||($268,653)||($204,202)||($604,052|
Highland Park may be doing everything operationally to optimize the performance of the Highland Park Country Club. But their best may not be good enough. According to a recent article in myfoxchicago.com, “One of the last bastions of adult recreation could be on the brink of unprecedented downsizing.” The article goes on to note, “A bad case of supply and demand has surfaced: too many courses, not enough golfers – and not enough money.”
Every time somebody tees up a golf ball at a municipal course in Highland Park, I subsidize it. I have different priorities for my public funds. It is time for policy makers to re-evaluate their positions in light of the trending financial realities. Supporting a new municipal golf course while the one’s we already have are struggling is inappropriate and bad policy.
* Highland Park’s commitment is from a Policy Statement of the City Council, adopted July 13, 2009