Ridgefield Golf Course brings in the green
Golf’s boom years, attracting droves of hard hitters and high rollers, wannabes and weekend whackers, may be past. But the Ridgefield Golf Course — owned by town taxpayers, where anyone with $45 can play — continues to bring money in.
For the most recently completed fiscal year, 2015-16 — which ended on June 30, 2016 — the Ridgefield Golf Course brought in $1.43 million, topping a budget projection of $1.325 million.
“We exceeded our goal on revenue by $100,000 in other words,” said Ed Tyrrell, chairman of the town Golf Committee, which oversees the course.
“That was a really great year, with really great weather,” he said.
Because fiscal years run July 1 to June 30, changing in the middle of the summer, the golf course’s books for each fiscal year reflect the end of one golfing season and the start of another.
But the town course also did pretty well looking at the calendar year 2016, looking at revenues for the the entire spring through fall season.
For the calendar year, the course had revenue of about $1.389 million, Tyrrell said, which came from about 39,000 rounds of golf.
“The number of rounds are the highest in many years,” Tyrrell said.
That’s partly the good weather, but town officials say golf course professional Frank Sergiovanni’s redesign of the course’s fee structure has helped.
“Our golf pro Frank Sergiovanni restructured the fees at the golf course, allowing us to maintain our current revenues, despite a general drop off in the game itself,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.
The membership structure is fairly complex.
There are two levels for frequent golfers — one residents and another out-of-towners.
And there’s a third available only to Ridgefielders — and special rates for juniors and seniors, with different daily greens fees charged depending on the membership level of the player, and whether it’s weekday or on the weekend or a holiday.
“Ridgefield residents are the only ones that can get the Silver membership — $25 for the season, and then you pay $30 a round,” Tyrrell said.
Non-residents would pay $50 on the weekend, $45 Monday through Friday.
“It’s very equal to that kind of average municipal golf course, pricewise,” Tyrrell said. “It’s about the same as Oak Hills in Norwalk, Longshore in Westport, Smith Richardson in Fairfield.”
The aim of the fee structure is to allow residents an opportunity to play at reasonable cost — whether they’re regulars or occasional golfers — while also encouraging play by out-of-town players to bring in revenue, even as the game’s overall fiscal health continues to slide.
“About 35% of our rounds are from non-residents or non-members, and that turns out to be about 65% of our revenue — so 35% of the rounds gives us about 65% of our revenue,” Tyrrell said.
“It continues down, nationwide, but our course seems to be well positioned in the sense of price. Upscale courses, they struggle a bit more. We seem to be at the right niche to continue to do well.”