The amount of rounds of golf played at H. Smith Richardson Golf Course in Fairfield has become a cause of concern for the Parks and Recreation Department lately, leading to an aggressive 10-year plan to renovate the course. H. Smith Richardson opened in 1972, and has had few updates since. Last month at the RTM approved a $180,000 bond to improve drainage on three holes, but that is just the beginning. In addition, the town has already approved $37,500 to replace the green's roller and a lawn mower that was purchased in 1988.
"The drop-off in rounds was a big alarm for us," said Golf Course Commission Chairman Craig Curley at the Board of Finance meeting earlier this week. "We really feel that we need to reinvest in the course's infrastructure to stem the tide."
Curley told the board that the number of rounds played dropped from 46,000 to 43,000 from 2008 to 2009. In addition, the total fees that the course has brought in is well below what the town originally estimated. As of March 31, the course had brought in around $64,000, almost $35,000 less than expected. With the summer months ahead, the number should balance out somewhat.
At the RTM meeting last month, members debated whether the drop in fees was due to the economy or the poor condition of the course. Curley said that rounds played had not dropped at a similar pace in surrounding towns.
Curley told the Board of Finance that over the next 10 years the commission will seek funds to modernize the course. According to Curley, many of the bunkers are still the originals, with awful drainage, forcing workers to pump water out of them. The drainage across the course is also failing. Curley told the board: "When you've got standing water on golf holes, it's a problem from a play perspective."
Plans are in the works to improve tee boxes, dredge the ponds on the course, create a new filtration system to wash equipment, perform renovations to the clubhouse and equipment barn, and build a new restroom facility. The whole plan should cost around $4.3 million.
Curley said that the revenue generated from these improvements will pay for the renovations within 10 years, but if not done, the course will end up costing the town even more.
A round of golf on holidays and weekends cost $27 for residents and $54 for non-residents.
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