A delegation from the Humboldt Golf Course provided a presentation to Humboldt City Council at its regular Monday night meeting on January 22. The presentation provided information and personal testimonials about the importance of the golf course to different community members and shone a light on its part in attracting new business and citizens to Humboldt.
Over the past several years, the City of Humboldt has provided financial support to the HGC as it struggles to maintain its financial footing. A report presented to Council outlined a strategy to move the course to profitability over the next few years. Part of the challenge with the finances stems from the additional 9 holes added to the course.
“The short answer is the operation was undercapitalized at the time of its expansion to 18 holes,” explained HGC General Manager Corey Schweitzer addressing the need for additional funding. “To complete the expansion project in the late 1990s and early 2000s, consisting of the addition of nine holes and construction of the current club house, the club borrowed $700,000. My conclusion is that it was too large a financial burden to pay without outside help.”
Schweitzer went on to say that he believes the expansion project was the right thing to do. However, when the city council of the day was approached about a $300,000 contribution, the proposal was denied. Instead, the project was funded through donations, fundraising, volunteer labour, and the aforementioned loan.
“Unlike other key pieces of our recreational and cultural infrastructure such as the Uniplex, ball diamonds, trail systems, parks, museum and gallery, and the library, the golf club – both the original nine holes constructed in 1944 and the expansion – was constructed and maintained without municipal money,” concluded Schweitzer, indicating the debt servicing was the chief cause of financial burden.
The golf club is looking to the future by actively pursuing new members, new programs and sponsorships, and new funding opportunities through initiatives like the new event centre. One such relative newcomer was board member Matthew Kelly who says the golf course was instrumental in his decision to move to Humboldt as a physical therapist. Kelly and his wife had no family connections and little knowledge of the community, he explained.
“Before moving, I had to think what did the city have to offer a newcomer like me,” Kelly said. “What was there to do and how would I meet people. For me, at the top of that list was the fact that there was a nice 18-hole golf course.”
Matthew explained that the club provided him with an introduction to his first few friends and a network to meet new people. He looks forward to his future family enjoying the sport and the amenities of the club, along with many other recreational facilities in the area.
Club President Kirk Plemel said the anticipated growth in Humboldt over the next few years will undoubtedly bear fruit for the course, although that growth would come only with additional work and investment. He said the business community, Humboldt and area citizens and a host of volunteers have been instrumental in setting the club on track.
Long time club member and Vice-President Dave Hill talked about his own experience, along with his families, with the golf club.
“The enjoyment we received playing golf and attending events at the Humboldt Golf Club far outweigh the financial output and volunteer hours each of us commits every year. I would add that personally, officially having achieved senior status, the golf course is as important to me as it ever has been.”
Schweitzer assured Council that efforts to bring in new golfers and youth golfers were showing results with growth in both areas. Schweitzer and the board of the HGC on hand thanked Council for its efforts to date and for its participation in the joint governance committee established to help support long term planning.
The results of a long-term financial plan and its positive outlook are available in the City Council package at humboldt.ca.