BANGOR, Maine — Hoping to stay competitive with other golf courses in the area, Bangor Municipal Golf Course officials are considering changes to membership structure to remove the distinction — and price difference — between resident and nonresident rates.
Residents of Bangor pay significantly less for a season membership than those who live outside the city. In a memo this week to city councilors, Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Willette said the city is losing money from nonresidents who are deterred by a higher price.
“We are aware that there may be a short-term risk of losing the revenue from the nonresident fees. However, we are experiencing a loss currently,” Willette wrote. “When we analyze the membership data, we have determined that if we sell at least 20 new memberships [at the new reduced rate] we can make up the difference.”
Brian Enman, head professional at Bangor Municipal, said he can’t remember having this discussion in the past, but he thought it was a good idea.
“Our goal is we want more people playing, and nonresidents are at a disadvantage,” he said, adding that it’s very likely at least 20 nonresidents would sign on if the rates changed.
The seasonal membership rate for residents is $630 for adults, $840 for a couple and $890 for a family. For nonresidents, the rates jump to $890, $1,135 and $1,470, respectively. Full membership options and rates are available online at www.bangorgc.com.
Willette and Enman are scheduled to brief members of the Bangor City Council’s business and economic development committee this evening. The committee then will offer its recommendation. If the changes are approved, Enman said the course would use the resident rates for all members.
Nonresident memberships in Bangor have decreased steadily in the last three years, according to Willette. With more competition in the area, specifically the newly public Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono, Bangor stands to lose even more.
“No other local course divides their membership structure into resident and nonresident options,” Willette said. “We have received feedback that indicates the nonresident pricing is prohibitive to several potential members.”
At Penobscot Valley, memberships are $1,295 for individuals, $1,995 for couples and $2,395 for families, and most serious golfers consider that course to be superior. The seasonal membership rate at Hermon Meadow Golf Club in Hermon is $600 for individuals and $850 for a couple. Daily green fees are $27.
Those two courses are privately owned, though. Riverside Municipal Golf Course in Portland, which is the most similar to Bangor, does charge more for nonresidents ($965) than it does residents ($715).
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 con-sidering changes to daily green fees or to membership rates for the 2010 season.
“We always look at our rates after each season, but we don’t want to increase every year,” Enman said. “Right now, with the economy, it’s not the time to raise rates.”