By David Skolnick
A year after the city- owned Henry Stambaugh Golf Course lost $57,407, the facility ended 2012 with a loss of half that amount and more in line with its 2009 and 2010 deficits.
Robert Burke, Youngs-town’s park and recreation director, said he’s hopeful the trend will continue this year.
“We’d like for it to break even or make a little bit of money,” he said. “The golf course is one of our gems. We did better last year and expect to do well this year. We’re looking at ways to” make more money.
That includes a haunted hayride near the North Side golf course in September and October, Burke said.
Years ago, the course usually had annual deficits of at least $100,000, previous park and recreation directors have said.
The last six-figure deficit was in 2008 when the city lost $113,342.
Because of city financial problems, the course was closed for a few days in April 2010.
The 90-year-old course had a $27,288 deficit that year when the city privatized most of the course’s operations.
When the city ran the course in 2011, a year later, Stambaugh finished with a $57,407 deficit.
Last year’s deficit was $28,511, about half the loss of 2011.
“It’s an improvement, and we’ve got to continue to improve to help the city’s bottom line,” said Mayor Charles Sammarone. “They’re moving in the right direction.”
The reduction in the course’s deficit largely was because of nice weather, and the additions of a concession stand and additional golf carts, Burke said.
The concession equipment was purchased by the Friends of Stambaugh Golf Course, an organization created by a group of golfers to raise money for improvements to the facility.
During the first year of concessions — hot dogs, soft drinks, coffee, candy and chips — the course made a $1,769 profit.
The nice weather last year led to $10,630 increase in green fees compared with 2011, Burke said.
Also, the course added three golf carts to its fleet last year and saw a $11,882 increase in cart fees compared with 2011, Burke said.
This all came without an increase in fees, he said.
City residents pay $8.50 to play the nine-hole course. Those who don’t live in the city pay $9 a round. Those age 60 or older play for $1 less.
Golf-cart rentals are $5 each.
Also helping was a $10 special during weekdays for a round of golf with a cart, Burke said.
Though the nice weather helped increase revenue at the course last year, the weather is delaying the start of the 2013 golf season at Stambaugh, Burke said.
The course usually opens on or around March 1. But the recent rain and snow have made the course wet, delaying the opening, Burke said.
The course should open in the next week or two.
The course usually closes in late November, depending on the weather.
The course’s friends organization helped raise money last year for an overhaul to Stambaugh’s clubhouse exterior as well as improvements to the nine-hole course, including a refurbishing of the 12-foot-high mesh metal fence on the 7th hole.
Also, the group wants to contribute money this year to help the city purchase or lease a rough-cut mower, said John Russo, director of the friends group.
The mower is expected to cost $15,000 used or about $50,000 new with a five-year payment plan.
The city’s proposed capital improvement/equipment purchase budget includes $486,000 for equipment purchases for the park and recreation department, but nothing for the golf course.