Duncan Park may enact small rate increases

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Golfers hoping to get in a few rounds at Duncan Park may see a few changes in the coming months.

While nothing major is expected, small rate increases for greens fees, cart rentals, range balls and membership are currently being considered.

The club has been operating at a major deficit for sometime now. The 2005-06 fiscal year saw a deficit of $52,386. The projected deficit for the 2006-07 year is set at $30,000, and the Natchez Parks & Recreation Department, as well as golf course managers, believe an increase of one dollar for greens fees, cart rentals and range balls, as well as a $25 quarterly increase in membership fees should offset those costs.

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&8220;According to our golf manager, Marvin Gray, it should cover our $30,000 (deficit,&8221; said Parks & Recreation Director Ralph Tedder. &8220;We&8217;re trying to make the golf course pay for itself. That has been the goal of the recreation council.&8221;

&8220;Mr. Tedder asked me if increasing the rates by this amount would bring in the $30,000 needed to offset the golf course deficit,&8221; said PGA master professional Marvin Gray, the club pro. &8220;I told him yes, it would based on the number of rounds played last year.&8221;

Neither Tedder nor Gray were concerned that the rates would drive away customers.

Their sentiments seemed to be echoed on the course Wednesday afternoon, as several local golfers didn&8217;t seem to bothered by the news.

&8220;One dollar &8212; that&8217;s understandable,&8221; said Jared Holland, who was playing a round. &8220;This is a pretty good course for the money. I&8217;ve definitely played worse (courses) for more (money). I wouldn&8217;t think this would keep me from playing more. Not too many people are going to go to Beau Pr/ over this.&8221;

Akeem West was playing with a group that all had opinions on the matter.

&8220;(I won&8217;t leave) for one dollar,&8221; West said. &8220;As long as they keep the course in good condition I&8217;ll stay.&8221;

Adolph Hayes echoed West&8217;s sentiments.

&8220;I&8217;m kind of like Akeem,&8221; he said. &8220;If it&8217;s for the betterment of the course and the betterment of the employees, I&8217;m ok with that.&8221;

Leonard Frazier felt he would need proof that the increase would go to the improvement of the course.

&8220;If they are doing this, it needs to help the employees or help them keep the course in good shape, it&8217;s okay,&8221; he said. &8220;This is a town without a lot of industry, and there are people on fixed incomes. They need to make sure they&8217;re taking care of them.&8221;

Tedder said course improvements are at the top of the list for the Parks & Recreation Board.

&8220;We&8217;ll continue to try to upgrade the golf course,&8221; he said. &8220;Gas is up, utilities are up and the vendors are passing it on to us. It&8217;s just inflation. You can&8217;t run on yesterday&8217;s dollars. It&8217;s been three or four years since we raised rates the last time.&8221;

&8220;Funds from the rate increase would be spent on golf course expenses,&8221; said Gray.

Tedder felt the proposed increase wouldn&8217;t be a huge problem for avid golfers in the area.

&8220;The golfers might be a little unhappy, but I don&8217;t think it&8217;s going to send anybody permanently to Beau Pr/ because we&8217;re the best deal in town. We have the best public course in the state. Even when people do run away they come back. You have to spend money to make money, and the revenue has been up.&8221;

Katie Stallcup contributed to this story