Rochester Park Board approves plan to cover cost of municipal golf courses

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(ABC 6 News) – The city of Rochester recently decided it would keep its four municipal golf courses, including Soldier’s Field, if it could come up with a plan to cover the cost.

Tuesday night, the Rochester Park and Recreation board got a first look at the plan and results from a community survey.

The park board approved the plan in a 4-1 vote.

Most golfers at Soldier’s Field Golf Courses said they don’t have a problem with the city raising its prices for golf, they just don’t want any changes to be made to the courses.

“For us golfers, it’s going to reduce the amount of golfers which reduces the amount of money that the golf courses make,” golfer Dave Rodenwald said.

Rodenwald said he golfs almost every day of the week, mainly at Hadley Creek Golf Course in Rochester.

“For me, it’s no problem. But for someone that only goes twice a week it’s gonna be steep,” he said.

The proposed price hikes approved by the park board Tuesday night include an increase in fees over the next couple of years with the regular season pass going from the current rate of $795 to about $1300 in 2027.

Daily rates would also increase from $32 to just over $37 by 2027.

“I probably play 120 rounds a year,” golfer Mike Terwisscha said. “Yep, I get my money’s worth and I get my exercise.”

Terwisscha used to live in the Twin Cities and said season passes there are a lot more expensive. According to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, a season pass for 2022 is about $1300. That is comparable to what Rochester is now recommending.

But a possible sticking point is the $250,000 in tax money the city wants to use to maintain the courses on top of the $250,000 generated revenue from those previously mentioned increased golf fees.

“I think the city should be willing to put a little extra money into the golf courses,” Rodenwald said.

A survey of 400 random households in Rochester was recently completed. Those results show that 70 percent of people are in favor of a tax increase to maintain city services. 51 percent of people said they favor a tax increase to improve or enhance city services with 37 percent of people opposing it.

“And a little raise to help cover certain things wouldn’t hurt,” Terwisscha said.

Although the park board approved this plan, the Rochester City Council still has to give the final approval.

The park board also approved as a part of this plan that they would suspend the annual early bird special starting on January 1, 2023, which allows golfers to purchase the next golf season’s annual pass at the current season’s rate.