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Monona Golf Course

Steve Mintz, of Madison, hits a tee shot at Monona Golf Course in Madison. Mintz said he's been playing the course since he was 12 years old and hopes it remains a golf course for a long time. 

JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

While the future of Madison’s Golf Enterprise remains unclear, the Parks Division hopes to open the city’s four golf courses in April depending on the weather. 

Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp said the courses will undergo general spring cleanup tasks, like removing trees and brush, fertilizing and preparing clubhouses. But first they need to thaw.

“Having frost in the ground and wet, soggy conditions puts turfgrass in a position that it can easily be significantly compromised/killed off by things like carts, clubs or even walking on it,” Knepp said.

The city’s Golf Enterprise operates Yahara Hills, Glenway, Odana and Monona golf courses. The courses do not receive tax dollars and are supposed to be a self-sustaining enterprise. However, the 72-hole system has a host of infrastructure problems and capital needs that could cost between $5 million and $8 million to fix.

Closing Yahara Hills or Monona and selling some of the land are the most controversial options to deal with the financial situation.

“Outside of subsidization, we think there are limited options available,” Knepp said. “However, there are options that could work without selling off land, but they do involve closures.”

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The city rarely sells park land. Knepp said he is only aware of the city’s decision to sell the former Bill Kettle Field to Dane County to expand Rodefield Landfill in 2014. However, the city does lease land for long terms, such as the Garver Feed Mill project.

Parks Division staff is currently reviewing business models for the Enterprise.

“Without a clear plan, we will have to begin determining ways to make the financial results less negative,” Knepp said. “I suspect we will begin considering an austerity program and hole reduction strategy over the coming years to stabilize and bring it back to black.”

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.