The cost of tee shots at Denver city golf courses could increase

Tee time at Denver-owned golf courses is probably about to get more expensive.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department wants to increase the maximum cost of play on all of its courses – whether nine or 18 holes, weekdays or weekends – as part of a series of pricing changes in its facilities.

Currently, an adult pays $44 to play 18 holes on weekdays and $55 on weekends. The department wants to increase that to $49 and $60.

The cost to play nine holes would jump to $29 on weekdays and $33 on weekends, a jump of $5 and $4, respectively. By three courses such as Harvard Gulch and Kennedy would see adult play drop from $15 to $19 on any given day.

The department estimates the changes would bring $2 million in additional revenue to the golf division next year, increasing it from $16.8 million to $18.8 million.

This projection assumes that the increase in fees would reduce demand somewhat. The department estimates it would see 415,000 cartridges without the changes and 400,000 with them.

The department needs the Denver City Council to approve the fee changes. Parks and Recreation Special Projects Manager Alaina McWhorter briefed a council committee on the proposal last week.

“We remain the most affordable golf opportunity in the Front Range area,” she said.

An overview of the current and proposed maximum golf fees. (Provided by City of Denver)

Golf is a “corporate division” for the Parks and Recreation Department, McWhorter said. This means that it should generate enough revenue to cover 100% of its costs. The ministry estimates that, if the changes are passed, the division would effectively cover 115% of its costs next year.

“That doesn’t mean they’re a profit-making business,” McWhorter said of the division. “It just means they’re able to have the flexibility to keep improving their services and programs, as well as meet any unforeseen capital or maintenance costs.”

Other fee changes the department wants to see implemented include increasing the cost of renting park facilities such as the city park pavilion, eliminating fees for hand-launched craft such than sailboats in the city’s five lakes that allow them and the increased price of staying in an RV at Chief Hosa Campground.

But McWhorter said the increase in golf greens fees would account for 80% of the additional revenue expected from all the changes.

The committee forwarded the proposal to the full council, where a majority of members would need to vote in favour.

Prior to the vote, Councilwoman Jamie Torres noted that the proposed cost of play was up $4 or $5 in each category and asked why the cost increase wasn’t more proportional – say, the cost of nine holes increasing by $2.50 while the cost of 18 holes increases by $5.

“Water, fertilizer, labor, etc. – all of these costs increase regardless of the type of course,” golf manager Scott Rethlake replied.

Rethlake also noted that the numbers above are technically the maximum price the department can charge, not the mandatory price.

“The fees we charge are not necessarily the fees we’re going to charge,” Rethlake said. “We have competition in the area…so we’re kind of driven by supply and demand. We’re not going to price it where someone isn’t going to play it.

This story was reported by our partner BusinessDen.

Michael C. Ford