Golf fees are fair to everyone
As chairman of the Golf Advisory Committee (GAC), I would like to respond to Mr. Narang's comments in his op ed, "Golf fees unfair to juniors, seniors," which appeared in the Nov. 5 issue of the Westport News.
It is wonderful that Mr. Narang's grandson is being introduced to golf at an early age and that they took time to get him training from Mr. John Cooper's staff.
Golf is a great game and may be the only one to share with parents or grandparents for many years. Mr. Cooper's junior program is known as one of the best in Connecticut. Many juniors have greatly benefited from the experience and proof is the successful Staples golf program.
Longshore, like other courses in the area, has policies which state when a junior can play and when they must be accompanied by an adult. These policies also give junior and senior discounts for play at specific times.
Using Mr. Narang's example it appears their group played after 4 p.m. when the Twilight rate is in effect. The Twilight rate is a promotional fee established several years ago where the green fee is $18 for all players.
To expect additional discounts is not reasonable.
Longshore green fees have remained the same since the 2008 playing season. There were no increases for the 2009 and 2010 playing seasons.
The fee schedule for the 2011 season will be determined after the New Year in conjunction with the overall Parks and Recreation Department budget.
The Golf Advisory Committee established a senior 18-hole rate of $18 for play Monday through Thursday. That rate represents a 22 percent discount versus the adult rate.
There is also a 20 percent senior discount for 9-hole rounds during the week. (note: the last time seniors received a 50 percent discount was 20 years ago when the senior green fee was $5.) There are no senior discounts on weekends.
Like other area courses Longshore does not discount any weekend rates as this is the time of prime demand for tee times.
Mr. Narang made a number of inaccurate assumptions as to who plays and when they play. The GAC maintains accurate records of the fee categories for planning purposes. For the 2009 season, 37,341 rounds were played including guest rounds.
Here is a breakdown for resident rounds played as a percentage of total rounds. Over the last four to five years these percentages have not varied more than 1 percent each year.
"¢ Adult: 15,191; 38%
"¢ Senior: 7,714; 16%
"¢ Twilight: 6,507; 12%
"¢ Junior: 1,650; 5%
Longshore golf fees are recommended by the Parks and Recreation Department staff, reviewed by the Golf Advisory Committee, recommended by the Parks and Recreation Commission and finally approved by the Board of Selectmen.
To change a golf fee, at least three public meetings of elected or appointed officials must be conducted, at which time public comment is welcome.
It should be noted that the Longshore Golf Course operating expense budget is virtually self sustaining. It is not funded by taxes but rather through golf handpass and green fees.
I hope this information sets the record straight. If anyone has questions about golf operations, I suggest they attend the GAC meetings, the time and location of which are posted on the Town's meeting schedule.
Fred Hunter is the chairman of Westport's Golf Advisory Committee (GAC).