Question: Is LF Golf Course an asset to the city?

Auditor suggests Council brainstorm on how to make it cash flow

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

 Longtime golfer Dick Culshaw tees off, while David Cult waits his turn.

Longtime golfer Dick Culshaw tees off, while David Cult waits his turn.

In the city of Little Falls, sits the 18-hole Little Falls Golf Course and Country Club, nestled on 46 acres in the woods along the Mississippi River.

The public can enjoy the course, the putting green, driving range, restaurant with an outdoor deck overlooking the river, a lounge and a pro shop.

While the course is considered an asset by many residents of the city, the city’s auditor told the Council it needs to brainstorm on ways to make it a break-even situation for the city, to cash-flow itself.

Mary Backlund, auditor with Schlenner Wenner & Co. in Little Falls, said the golf course showed revenues in the amount of $432,011 — $7,011 more than budgeted. However, total expenses, including $76,000 in depreciation came to $519,557, a different of $86,546.

Backlund said the course should have done better in 2012, due to the longer season.

She said a point of sale (POS) system has been in place for four years at the clubhouse, but nothing was consistent because “No one seems to know how to run it,” she said.

Golfers both young and not so young enjoy the Little Falls Golf Course and Country Club, a part of the community since 1921. While not a profitable venture, as the city’s auditors would like, the city’s golf course offers fun in the sun during the summer season. Pictured above, Austin Visker, 15, practices his putting early Tuesday afternoon, while friends Reed Hines, 15, left and Brand Kuklok, 16, look on. Visker and Hines are members of the Little Falls Community High School golf team and Kuklok golfs for fun.

Golfers both young and not so young enjoy the Little Falls Golf Course and Country Club, a part of the community since 1921. While not a profitable venture, as the city’s auditors would like, the city’s golf course offers fun in the sun during the summer season. Pictured above, Austin Visker, 15, practices his putting early Tuesday afternoon, while friends Reed Hines, 15, left and Brand Kuklok, 16, look on. Visker and Hines are members of the Little Falls Community High School golf team and Kuklok golfs for fun.

“If the POS was operating correctly, we could get more information,” she said, including keeping track of inventory. She said the POS system is currently being used as a cash register.

Backlund said Golf Course Superintendent Randy Pankonen needed more training on the system, so he could train others to use it correctly.

She questioned whether items in the pro shop were selling sufficiently, noting the gross profit for the golf pro shop went down. She indicated there were pricing errors and that the inventory needed to be looked at.

She asked that the Council take a step back to consider several questions such as: “What do you want to see the golf course be in the future? Do you want to stay status quo, or do you want to change something?” she said. “Is it a worthwhile asset to the city? Are you willing to levy for it?”

Council President Don Klinker noted the city levies for the zoo and the city’s parks. “The golf course is an asset to the community,” said Klinker.

Council Member at Large Brian-Paul Crowder said he felt the golf course was doing better than in the past, and was an attraction to the community.

“You’re going to have to find a way to supplement it,” said Backlund.

Other suggestions made by the auditor included installing a surveillance camera in the clubhouse.

Council Member Greg Zylka said profit goals were needed as well as looking at controls.

“Whether cameras, training, etc., you need to look at controls wherever you can. I’m not saying anything is going on, but you have to run it like a business,” he said. “We owe it to the taxpayers.”

City Administrator Dan Vogt will invite Pankonen to a work session with the Council to brainstorm ideas.

The Little Falls Golf Course had its beginnings in 1921, when R.D. Musser and other businessmen had a nine-hole course built. In 1943, Sarah Walker Musser and R.D. Musser and the Little Falls Town and Country Club deeded the course to the city, during World War II, with the stipulation that it be used only for golf and that if it were not used for that purpose, the property would revert back to the Musser family or its heirs.

In the late 1970s, plans were made to add nine more holes to make it the 18-hole course, with completion slated for 1980.

Over the past five years, the “Golf Extravaganza” tournament has been held to raise funds for golf course improvements and for the purchase of equipment, as well as to support the youth golf program.

More than $75,000 was raised during the first four years of the tournament.

In addition to individual play, the Little Falls Country Club plays hosts to five men’s leagues, two ladies’ leagues, a seniors league and a couple’s league. Superintendent Pankonen said about 10 – 12 tournaments are held during the season.

Twelve seasonal employees are hired to work at the course this year.

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