Nashville is losing big money on public golf courses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – Golf has exploded in Nashville during the pandemic, but Metro Parks blames the hiring struggle for what could be hundreds of thousands of dollars left on the table.

Joey Hickman is a retired golf professional who has worked on public courses for over 25 years. He said there’s no doubt the hours of operation at Metro’s six public golf courses have kept people away when they should be capitalizing on the sport’s newfound popularity.

It’s no secret that Nashville is growing every day with people coming from all over the country. Hickman said the waiting lists for virtually every private course in central Tennessee make public courses in Nashville well worth the 30-mile drive for people like Kyle Green.

“Especially considering what they charge to play here,” Green said.

“Competitive enough?” NewsChannel 5 survey asked.

“Absolutely, very competitive,” Green said.

Metro Parks officials said that with few people working, the last call at their courses to rent a cart for 18 holes is usually 1:30 p.m. For those playing 9 holes, the deadline is around 4:30 p.m. they make sure all the carts are back by the time they close at 7pm, even if the sun doesn’t set for a few hours in the summer.

“It would probably put me off playing if I didn’t have access to a cart,” Green said.

NewsChannel 5 survey ran the numbers to better understand how much of a difference a few hours make between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at night.

Let’s say you have two people per golf cart. It’s $6 each, which is $12. Most groups need at least two carts, so now we’re talking $24.

They can accommodate about six groups per hour, which is $144 times the two and a half hours we have before closing. We are now at $360.

Multiply that by seven days in a week, 24 high season weeks between April and September, and finally six courses. Total: $362,880 in cart fees only.

We do the same calculation, this time for green fees, or the cost of admission. Total: $226,800.

Now, of course, some days are busier than others, and some people may not want a cart knowing they have little time to gamble, but the city could lose $589,680 in just six months. .

Metro Parks officials said NewsChannel 5 survey‘The figures do not take into account the weather and the seasons.

They also said, “This does not take into account that we collect green fees from golfers even after stopping cart rentals at a pre-determined time, which of course is based on staff availability. We do not deliberately fill positions. The vacancy status of our staff has been difficult over the past two years. We know this is true not just for us, but for businesses across the city and across the country. This fact should carry as much weight as any other aspect of your story. We continue our efforts to fill vacancies and increase hours as the workforce increases.

Hickman said that even if they spent $50,000 to $60,000 to raise wages and attract more workers, they could bring in hundreds of thousands more. Every dollar the classes make goes into the city’s general fund and helps fund countless Metro programs.

John Holmes is the assistant park manager for Metro Parks and oversees golf finance where he says the starting salary for new seasonal and part-time hires much of last year was $8.25 a year. hour. They have since increased that salary to $11.

NewsChannel 5 survey asked him why they couldn’t pay more.

“We are. Every year we evaluate positions, evaluate salaries. Try to stay competitive with other industries,” Holmes said in response.

But the same day, NewsChannel 5 survey interviewed Holmes, Metro human resources director Shannon Hall told a Metro Council budget hearing that she tried to convince Metro Parks director Monique Odom to follow his recommendation and d increase what they paid their seasonal and part-time employees.

“I offered him my recommendation. We asked again this year as we ask every year. Do you want to update? Do you and the Board of Parks want to change the rate of pay? Parks’ answer was no for this year,” Hall said.

Metro Parks responded in a statement saying in part, “Monique has not rejected any recommendations to increase the rate of pay. Good financial management takes the budget into account. Indeed, under his leadership, the rate of pay for seasonal and part-time workers has increased over the past two years. (Hall’s) discussion, which you referred to, was about increasing the pay scale, not the rate of pay. There is a big difference between the two. »

Hall said Odom seemed keen on finding a way to attract workers, while staying within the budget allocated to them.

Since 2019, the golf course has spent nearly $4 million each year to pay its employees. That left Metro Parks paying more than they earned in two of the past three years.

Holmes said that despite full-time staff, seasonal workers and help from volunteers, they never had the challenges they face this year in finding help.

When NewsChannel 5 survey When asked about volunteers, Holmes said each course is allowed to have volunteers who work a certain number of hours and get free golf in return for a week.

Some have told us that it’s not just pay that’s a problem for them. They said NewsChannel 5 survey you could apply one day and wait almost a month or even longer to get the job.

“It’s the Metro government and there are processes that we have to go through and we follow them,” Holmes said.

It’s a process that hasn’t changed and some argue it’s time for a new approach. Ultimately, we all want to find the best path to the green, even though some say it’s harder than you think.

” I understand. I understand that, but from a golfer’s perspective and that’s where I’m coming from. There is still revenue on the table,” Hickman said.

Michael C. Ford