City golf courses in S. Utah prepped for busy season

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ST. GEORGE, Utah -- As the temperatures get cooler along the Wasatch Front golf courses in southern Utah are preparing for its busy season.

The four city-owned courses are hoping this year will be a money-saving one. Since 2009, the golf industry has seen a general decline. City Golf Division Director Colby Cowen said it’s a nationwide trend. In 2013 the city reported a combined operating deficit of more than $800,000.

“One thing that really affects us here in St. George is the weather,” Cowen said. “Also more golf courses have come online since 2009 with some new communities.”

As part of an effort to recover some of that cost, the city took over management of the golf pro shops and concessions in July. Before that time the Professional Golfing Association operated them as independent contractors.

“Bringing the merchandise and concessions under one umbrella, I think that can help us cut into that deficit a little bit,” Cowen said. “It gives us more opportunities to do different specials for customers.”

It’s still too soon to tell whether the changes made in the pro shop will have a positive effect. The busy season peaks about January or February.

Cowen said small improvements tell them there’s a recovery on its way.

“We’re slowly nudging that way,” Cowen said. “We’re seeing more rounds played and by doing those changes we’ll be able to cut into that a little more.”

Even with a deficit, the economic impact of golf on the area is an estimated $12 million through restaurants and hotels.