BANGOR, Maine —City councilors approved changes to the membership structure at Bangor Municipal Golf Course this week, significantly reducing rates for those who live outside Bangor but still offering a discount to city residents.
The changes are designed to increase the number of annual memberships by making nonresident rates more competitive with other courses in the area.
“Just in the few weeks that we’ve been talking about changes, the response has been positive,” Bangor Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Willette said.
Initially, Willette and Brian Enman, head professional at Bangor Muni, proposed eliminating the rate distinction between nonresidents and residents altogether. Currently, an adult membership is $630 for residents and $890 for nonresidents.
However, when Willette and Enman came before the city council’s business and economic development committee this week, they had modified that proposal.
Under the approved changes, residents will still pay $630 individually, while nonresidents will pay $700. That structure mirrors what the golf course already does with daily green fees — offer Bangor residents a 10-percent discount. For couples, residents will pay $840 and nonresidents $935. For families, residents will pay $890 and nonresidents $990. Full membership options and rates are available online at www.bangorgc.com.
Councilors supported the changes and particularly appreciated the fact that they included a discount for city residents.
In the last several years, Enman said the golf course has seen the number of nonresident memberships decrease steadily — from 86 in 2004-05 to a low of 49 in 2008-09 — a trend he attributed to the cost disparity. Competition for area courses, specifically the newly public Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono, has prompted Bangor to re-evaluate.
Memberships at Penobscot Valley are $1,295 for individuals, $1,995 for couples and $2,395 for families, although most serious golfers consider that course to be superior in terms of quality. The seasonal membership rate at Hermon Meadow Golf Club in Hermon is $600 for individuals and $850 for a couple. At both courses, residents and nonresidents pay the same.
Enman said if the new rate structure for Bangor Muni encourages just 20 additional nonresidents to purchase memberships — something he said is more than reasonable — it will pay off.
Bangor Municipal Golf Course is the most played course in the region, averaging about 35,000 rounds or more for the last several years. It also is the only course in the area that offers 27 holes. Before this past season, seasonal memberships at Bangor increased by $30 and daily green fees by $2. Enman said the city is not considering changes to daily green fees or to membership rates for the 2010 season.
The golf course, a division of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, is operated as an enterprise fund, which means it does not operate with taxpayer money. In fact, half of any net revenue generated by the golf course goes back into the city’s general fund.