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Golf panel backs no hike in fees for coming Longshore season

Published 8:18 am, Wednesday, March 5, 2014
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To bring more Westporters back to the municipal links, the Golf Advisory Committee recommends that fees at Longshore Club golf course this season stay on a par with last year.

In a unanimous vote, committee members Tuesday expressed hope that, coupled with greater attention to maintenance by a new outside contractor, more golfers may play the town-owned, 18-hole course because fees will not be raised.

"After the last two years -- especially, the last year -- obviously a fee increase would not be appropriate," said member Gary Solomon. "We're here to attract golfers back, especially the Westport golfer."

What many golfers had complained were deteriorating conditions on the course over the last several years, exacerbated by the series of severe storms, has cut into use of Longshore.

The town last year signed a contract with ValleyCrest Golf Course Maintenance to take over care of the links.

"We're already going to be $270,000 ahead," Solomon said, referencing the anticipated savings from the elimination of related staff positions. "I would think that the current fee schedule for the next year would be appropriate."

The adult (18 to 61 years old) resident rate for 18 holes of golf Monday through Thursday will remain $24 weekdays, and $26 on weekends and holidays. Senior citizen and junior residents will continue to pay a $19 weekday fee and $26 on weekends.

David Levin, a member of the Longshore Men's Golf Association, said the committee should consider lowering the fees for out-of-town guests, which is $46 during the week and $52 on weekends for adults, in order to attract more visitors.

"It's simply not worth the non-resident rate to play Longshore during the week and it's incredibly expensive compared to other comparable courses," he said.

"During the week there are plenty of tee times," he said. "I think that would be a reasonable way to stimulate some play on the course."

But committee members said they weren't interested in attracting out-of-towners, but prefer to focus on bringing more Westporters back to the links.

"Our primary function here, I believe, is the Westport golfer," said Gary Solomon, noting that residents appreciate the "semi-private feel" the golf course has.

"We're not running this as a private business," he said, noting that in Greenwich 90 percent of the costs for its public course come out of the tax base.

"It's really a benefit of being a resident of the town," he said.

"I think we should focus our marketing efforts on bringing back the Westport golfer," Scott Smith agreed.

Committee Chairman Fred Hunter, who agreed, noted that other area courses had fees that were equally as high or higher.

"So our fee for guests during the week it's not out of line," he said.

Levin noted, however, that the Longshore course has been in much poorer condition than surrounding courses.