>Madras will likely invest more than $400,000 to provide a full-service golf course to area residents
News Editor
   Jan. 30, 2002 -- The City Council unanimously adopted a motion Jan. 22 to provide golf to area residents by sprucing up the nine holes it obtained out of a lawsuit with a clubhouse, pro shop, grounds-keeping equipment and year-round employees.
   City councilor Michael Goss, chairman of Madras' golf task force, presented a recommendation that outlined possible expenses that could total $614,000 if all the equipment and facilities recommended to run the nine holes were purchased brand new. However, he noted that first-year expenses could be kept to roughly $487,752 if the city purchased used equipment and leased its golf facilities.
   "As I was sitting here and looking at our mission statement," Goss said, "I think this course fits into it very well."
   The nine holes will be called "The Links at Madras."
   The city obtained the course from Kevin O'Meara, who leased nine of the 18 holes that formerly made up his Nine Peaks Golf Course. On Aug. 3, Senior Circuit Court Judge F.J. Yraguen upheld the city's decision to terminate its lease agreement with O'Meara, who sued Madras over land-use and irrigation issues. O'Meara has appealed that decision.
   The approved motion at the council's regular Jan. 22 meeting was only a broad recommendation that included one-time cost projections plus year-round operational expenses. Methods for funding the golf course will continue to be refined, Madras City Administrator Steve Bogart said.
   Tom Archey, a hired consultant out of Bend who advised the city's golf task force, said it typically costs $2.5 million to build an 18-hole golf course from scratch.
   "This is a marvelous opportunity the council and city can take advantage of," he told the councilors. "You can really operate a marvelous facility with affordable golf."
   Archey said he examined 41 similar nine-hole golf courses and they average roughly 15,000 rounds per year. He recommended the city charge $10 for nine holes of golf and $15 for 18 holes.
   "I would hope that a properly run golf course is a moneymaking project within the third year," he said.
   The approved recommendation calls for four employees, including one 10-hour-per-week superintendent, to run the course. Their combined salaries are projected to cost $24,000 annually.
   Projected income for the first year of operation has been calculated at $243,550. Year-round operational expenses, not including one-time capital costs, have been estimated at $247,692.
   "We have fallen heir to a valuable asset," Goss said.
   "We have nine holes in shape -- they're not the greatest -- but they're salvageable."
   The city will sell merchandise, food and alcohol from a 24-by-60-foot clubhouse complete with a deck and lounge area. A 2,000-square-foot maintenance building will house golf carts and grounds-keeping equipment.
   The city reopened the nine holes it took back from O'Meara on Oct. 12, asking golfers using the course to place $5 in a red box on the honor system. That box has collected $51.
   The Madras Public Works Department maintained the course with borrowed equipment plus free labor from the juvenile department, but the course has turned brown in areas and maintenance crews have had difficulty keeping the grass at an appropriate length.
   "It's going to take up until July 1 to make this a good course," Goss said.
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