BOWIE – The mayor and city council gave approval to amend the lease for the management company of the Bowie Golf and Country Club resulting in a loss of $176,000 in revenue for the city. According to a memo from City Manager David Deutsch, the previous agreement with Bowie Golf Management (BGM) was scheduled to […]
BOWIE – The mayor and city council gave approval to amend the lease for the management company of the Bowie Golf and Country Club resulting in a loss of $176,000 in revenue for the city.
According to a memo from City Manager David Deutsch, the previous agreement with Bowie Golf Management (BGM) was scheduled to run until Sept. 30, 2021, and would have generated $648,000 paid in 12 monthly installments. The amended lease will generate $472,000 over the remaining life of the lease and will require BGM to make only nine payments in order to provide relief from December through January, a time when the company brings in less revenue because of adverse weather.
According to Deutsch, the city agreed to amend the lease because of financial difficulties facing BGM.
“The golf course has been experiencing cash flow problems due to a variety of reasons including declining membership; extended adverse winter weather conditions; and, a cyclical decline of the golf industry in general that is causing other golf courses in the metropolitan area to go out of business,” Deutsch said in his memo.
John Huber, general manager of Bowie Golf and Country Club, said business is “slow” because there are not as many golfers which results in some golf courses filing for bankruptcy along with many golf courses across Prince George’s County going on the market for sale.
“Golf is a business that is a luxury,” Huber said. “People have to put gas in their car but they don’t have to play golf.”
Deutsch said a decline in play is a national phenomenon and just something affecting Bowie.
To attract more people to come out and play, Huber said he has lowered the price for a round of golf from $50 to between $23 and $39. At most golf courses, Huber said it can cost upwards of $80 to play a round of golf.
“We’re trying to make golf more affordable for the average person,” Huber said. “We’ve lowered our rates and we’re trying to make it more affordable so people can come out and play golf more than just once a month or twice a month.”
However, due to the struggles of the course, Huber said he had to ask the city to restructure the lease. The city has been “pretty good” with helping the golf course since it owns the property. BGM has leased the property since 1981.
“They’ve been more than generous with us in helping us,” Huber said. “When we’ve been financially having trouble, they were more than willing to work with us.”
Mayor G. Frederick Robinson said the city council reviewed the proposal to amend the lease after discussing the changes with staff. Robinson said BGM had “good sense” to ask for changes to the lease.
“For the last two or three years, the golf course has had some significant weather-related closures,” Robinson said. “Last year, they were closed from the first week of December until the middle of April. So they had very little income coming in as well as challenges to keep the course up.”
Deutsch said the council determined the changes were reasonable to help the golf course stay in business.
“We want them to remain a community asset, which it is,” Deutsch said.
The restructured lease will result in a total loss of $176,000 for the city, and between $25,000 and $35,000 a year for the next several years.
“The thing to keep in mind though, is there are other communities that operate golf courses where there is a significant cash outlay as a direct subsidy,” Deutsch said. “We don’t have that. Even with the restructured lease, we still have revenue coming in.”
Councilmember Dennis Brady said the golf course remains a priority for the council after the city acquired it decades ago when a developer proposed putting townhouses on the land when it went up for sale.
The golf course is an asset to the city, Brady said, because it continues to be an undeveloped open space that brings in revenue. Brady said he thinks the economy’s decline during the Great Recession led to a decline in play but it could change in the future.
“I think when the economy returns, we’ll see it come back,” Brady said. “Another problem that exists affecting well-populated areas is that there are too many golf courses. So they’re competing for a limited pool of people.”