Officials: Changes at Duncan Park led to increased revenuePublished 12:01am Thursday, June 20, 2013
NATCHEZ — He may not be a dad, but Father’s Day weekend was a good weekend for Greg Brooking.
The Duncan Park golf course superintendent was happy that his “baby” — the course — had a significant increase in revenue compared to Father’s Day weekend in 2012.
This past weekend, Duncan Park collected $7,339.18 compared to $5,123.78 for Father’s Day weekend 2012. Neither weekend saw inclement weather that would have hampered play, Brooking said.
“Any time you get that much of an increase and there’s not a significant weather event, that’s big,” Brooking said.
The weekend is a microcosm of the overall increase in golfers for Duncan Park, Brooking said. Already this year, there have been several instances where all of the course’s golf carts were in use, including this weekend.
“I can’t remember anytime last year we ran out of carts besides golf tournaments,” Brooking said. “We’ve run out of them two or three times already (this year).”
With the increase in participation comes an increase in overall revenue, and Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said the cost of operation is down while the overall revenue is “dramatically” up. Brown said changes in management implementation are why there’s been an increase.
“We tried to streamline the operation as much as possible, we reduced and consolidated fee schedules, got better equipment and shuffled recreation employees into other city positions,” Brown said. “We made the bulk of the positions at Duncan Park part-time under Brooking’s management.”
Changes instituted last fall include bi-annual membership payment plans, an increase in fees and cutting down on discounts. In addition, weekend tee times and a course marshal have been added, and management of the course goes directly through Brooking instead of a committee.
As a result, Brown said, the course is in better condition, which is making it more appealing to golfers.
“It’s worked out very well for us,” Brown said. “Before, it just wasn’t adequate. We just have more attention being given to it, better management and more extensive use. We’re delivering a better product, and people are using it more.”
The extra money, Brown said, goes back into the general fund, which helps pay for the costs of running the park, as well as other recreational opportunities provided by the city.
“Quite frankly, we’re doing extra work — repairs, maintenance, that sort of thing — and it’s nice to have the revenue that is meeting the monthly bill,” Brown said.
Dan Bland, a volunteer consultant who helped formulate the changes at the park, said thanks to the changes that the course is in much better financial shape than it was last year.
“I think they’re astounded that, instead of us losing money, we might come close to breaking even,” Bland said. Bland has previously said that the course lost $150,000 last year.
Bland said future plans to improve the golf course include adding water and irrigation to the back nine holes.
“If we can do that, I will state to you that you won’t find a better public golf course in Mississippi,” Bland said. “That will make it so much better. We’re going into the summer months, and we have to keep the grass watered and the players hydrated.”
Brooking also said water and irrigation to the back nine would make a huge difference.
“If we didn’t have this last rain, we would already be seeing drought-like conditions on the back fairway,” Brooking said. “We’ll eventually need to have water put on that side (of the course).”