Gypsy Hill golf course loses money: Pay to play


Photo Credit: Kevin Carden

The City of Staunton-owned Gypsy Hill golf course lost $49.46 per round in the 2019 fiscal year. So, naturally, what needs to be done is more marketing.

That was one suggestion from the city parks and rec director, Chris Tuttle, who, in his defense, seemed to just be spitballin’.

And Tuttle points out that just closing the golf course, which seems the most logical outcome, doesn’t automatically translate into cost savings, since the city would still be on the hook for maintenance and irrigation.

City leaders are struggling to figure out what to do, and there’s no easy answer.

The acreage could be repurposed into park space, but again, there’s cost involved there.

It seems to me that you could, right off the top, raise the rates, which are hilariously low right now: $10 to walk 18 holes, $25 for 18 holes with a cart.

Just up the road, at the Club at Ironwood, it’s $45 for 18 holes weekdays, $56 on weekends, and another $18 for the cart.

Back-of-the-envelope math suggests you could make up your deficit just mirroring what the local market seems to be, though, yes, of course, it’s not always that easy.

Market forces should play some kind of role in the figuring here, though.

Right now, taxpayers are subsidizing, substantially, rounds of golf – 7,101 of them in the 2019 fiscal year.

Throwing more money down the rabbit hole isn’t going to generate return on investment in a sporting activity that has lost more than a third of its participants in the past 20 years.

The fair thing to do seems to be to ask those who want to play to pay for the privilege.

Column by Chris Graham

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