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New City Manager Proud of Hilaman’s Impact on Tallahassee Golf Prices

Posted on December 10, 2015

New City Manager Proud of Hilaman’s Impact on Tallahassee Golf Prices

It appears that the City of Tallahassee is in the business of driving down golf prices in Tallahassee.

At the last Tallahassee City Commission meeting, the new City Manager, Rick Fernandez, assured elected officials that the practice of not allowing businesses to participate in City sponsored events because they compete with a City service, would end.

The issue arose when a local gymnastic business, Gym Force, was told they could not participate in the City’s Winter Festival because they competed with services provided by Trousdell Gymnastics & Aquatics Center. See full report here.

However, shortly after that statement, the City Manager told the City Commission that he was proud that the golf program at Hilaman “has driven prices in Tallahassee for the golf community way down. The average golf round today is about half what it was five years ago. We’re extremely proud of that…”

Local owners of golf clubs told TR they are concerned with the pricing at Hilaman, especially with the recent downturn in the economy and the struggling golf market.

One golf course owner said, “it is not helpful to have a golf course run by a City with enormous resources that is interested in driving prices down. We have enough challenges as it is.”

The issue of the City of Tallahassee pricing services below market value came up with the gymnastics story.

Owners of dance studios and gyms told Tallahassee Reports they had to keep prices lower because of the service offered by the City. These owners said the City prices for gymnastics and dance classes were below what they considered sustainable for a private company.

“The City subsidizing their services with my tax dollars has hurt my business,” said one owner.

17 Responses to New City Manager Proud of Hilaman’s Impact on Tallahassee Golf Prices

  1. Vic Aderhold

    Vic Aderhold Reply

    December 10, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    I know of at least one shopping center owned by the City.

  2. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    December 11, 2015 at 5:45 am

    This small quote reveals a deep-seated, systemic problem at City Hall. The City believes it has the right to take local business tax dollars and harm the local private economy. This is beyond wrong, it is twisted.

    • John Lester Reply

      December 11, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      The City and County seem to “own” the Chamber of Commerce, as well. Perhaps the City could get into the fast food business and drive some of he burger prices down, and there’s always the active gun market here in North Florida, so City could open “Fernandez’ Weaponry”!!Publix seems to dominate the grocery market, and I’ll bet Ricky’s City Market could teach them a thing or three. I have a couple of businesses I would sell them and they could really broaden the scope of what government ought to be doing! Why stop at golf?!I would like to have my City tax increase refunded.

    • Bryan Reply

      December 20, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      This is what we get, when, only Regressives vote at the local level.

  3. Dennis Barton Reply

    December 11, 2015 at 7:47 am

    I read the piece and listened to the excerpt and I am not sure that is what Mr. Fernandez meant. Greens fees at municipal courses everywhere are always lower than those of private or semi-private clubs as it has been the function of municipal courses to be the learning ground for new or occasional golfers. It allows entry to the sport and a reasonable function of local government. It is more likely that green fees are now lower in the courses that allow public use because (1) there are a lot of courses in the Tallahassee area and (2) there has been a shift in the use of leisure time and golf is no longer the sport of choice in the younger generation.

    • Preston Scott

      Preston Scott Reply

      December 11, 2015 at 8:02 am

      It is not the function of government to introduce people to the game of golf or compete in the market. He is proud that they drove prices down in the private sector. It matters not that its what other cities and towns do…it is not the role of government to intervene in the free market. If they do, (though it is still wrong) there should be a “needs” requirement based on income. The danger here is people not wanting “their” entitlement touched. The bigger danger is that the City routinely competes against the private sector.

      • Jane Reply

        December 11, 2015 at 9:21 am

        Seriously, supply and demand economics will eventually prevail, in spite of the efforts of City government.

        If the City continues to lower prices, then the greens will be filled with people who have no interest in playing golf, and drive the people who really want to play to an “exclusive” alternate course where the cost will be higher. Then due to the lack of “real” interest, Hilliman will get run down, and eventually the City will sell it to a developer (friend) who will rebuild it and sell it back to the City (at an outrageous profit) because everyone deserves to play golf.

        Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Nothing new under the sun.

      • Danny Reply

        December 11, 2015 at 10:49 am

        Let’s just get rid of all the parks Preston. No more softball, no tennis, no trail walking, nothing. Get rid of it all because by god the city can do all those but they can’t do golf. Preston said so!! You’re all wet on this one.
        Whether on not the city is driving down golf prices is highly debatable. It’s probably not actually happening that way. The economy itself is more of an issue for golf. The premise and the conclusions of this story are simple wrong and definitely not very well thought through. The city manager didn’t think it through either.
        In addition I think (not 100% sure) the golf course operates at a profit these days.

        • From the cheap seats Reply

          December 11, 2015 at 11:48 am

          I would agree with you. If I follow the argument Mr. Scott is making, as soon as someone opens up a business, say develops a baseball venue, the City/County should abandon their efforts toward providing similar recreation. I mean, that’s the conclusion, isn’t it? Since there are fitness centers in town, the parks shouldn’t have exercise stations on the trails, correct? It is in competition, is it not?

          It would be interesting to see the data the City Manager used to draw his conclusion leading to the statement. Possibly revenue from greens fees is down overall in the panhandle – blame it on Hilaman? He could be right in his conclusion, but for the wrong reason, crediting the wrong factors.

          By the way, I do agree that the concept of giving the City programs preference over business at public functions is wrong. Complement and supplement.

          • Jane

            December 11, 2015 at 1:33 pm

            Danny and “From the cheap seats”,
            What we have here is a failure to communicate. Yes, I believe that the City should be out of ALL recreational activities. Over and over, PEOPLE have stepped up to the plate whether there is a need to be filled or a profit to be made. For example, at Christmas some families cannot afford gifts for their children, so INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE step up and fill that need. Some families cannot afford gifts, so banks offer credit cards to make a PROFIT. Government drowns out both charity and free enterprise. I can tell you from personal experience that COT is doing a piss poor job of running girl’s softball. I tried to register for classes at Lafayette Park, only to be unable to use their computer system, but being told that they were working on the implementation of a new system. It’s a goat rodeo to sign up for ANY City recreational services. I always wind up looking to private sources because the government is such a bureaucratic nightmare. Paperwork, insurance, and slowly grinding incompetence.

            I believe that governments responsibility is to provide for the safety of its citizens, not for their recreational entertainment.

        • Preston Scott

          Preston Scott Reply

          December 11, 2015 at 12:41 pm

          First, the City claims responsibility for hurting local business. Debatable or not is irrelevant…it something the City believes and is proud to accomplish. They do it in multiple areas. The issue is that the City is doing so because it TAKES money from citizens and businesses to subsidize its pricing. That is patently wrong. Another point is the example of other sports and activities…where, with the exception of tennis instruction, there is no private sector presence. Lastly, the fact that golf is likely losing money makes it even more egregious because not only are the efforts not producing a program that breaks even, it hurts other local golf venues. The only club that is private is Golden Eagle. How much of a role has this taxpayer subsidized golf business hurt Killearn and Summerbrooke? “Market” forces and the current economy are playing a role in golf’s issues at large, but the City’s practices are directly intended, as stated, to hurt and drive down prices. That is wrong because they are using tax dollars to do it.

    • Tom Pitcock Reply

      December 15, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      Yay, I get to agree with my friend Dennis on something. We can talk fracking some other day! I have played golf with Dennis at Hilaman, as I have hundreds of times with the most diverse group of people I have ever associated with. Men, women, old and young and every race I know of in town. It is our “Park” we just happen to walk our hills and ponds carrying clubs and hitting a little ball into a little hole. More than 80 percent of golf participants play at public courses and junior and senior golfers combine to make up only 30 percent of all golfers in America. This means that the other 70 percent of golfers are between the ages of 18-65, and a very large portion of that segment would have the financial means to pay a $45 public green fee once per week if they so desired. The main reason for the lack of players is time and the demands of work and life. Lots of people want to play, they just can’t. Private courses like Killearn and Golden Eagle and historically Capital City are just that….private. People with the means are willing to pay to play with a select group at convenient times on courses that are well maintained. I visited Killean awhile back to see the club and think about joining….if they would have me. The course was beautiful, but the clubhouse and eating facilities were very dated and dirty. I never went back. And for the last year we have heard horror stories about the owner closing 9 holes and general turmoil within the club and membership. Other private courses are begging for members and deals including the initiation fees and dues are in many cases at historical lows, but many still struggle. Summerbrooke here in town, is just plain terrible. Beautiful land, but the underpinnings to make a golf course were never done and the condition is generally unplayable, even at rates like $10 for 18 with a cart. So they are just not competitive or worth the money. They do have a lovely pool though. So what Hilaman does is make golf possible for a quick 9 or 18 for students, give several group experiences for older and retired men and women, and perhaps best, fosters an atmosphere where young people can learn and experience a wonderful game and people that are eager to help them learn. The others need to earn their place in the golf market and provide a desired product to attract their members or the public. Lastly, prices? Go to GolfNow.com any morning and you can beat the lowest advertised price and play anywhere withing 100 miles of Tallahassee for nearly nothing. No membership or dues, just really cheap golf. It’s not Hilaman or City or Municipal….it’s the the golf world we live in. Leave us to share our “Park” with our old and hopefully new friends at price we can afford!

  4. Franklin Thompson Reply

    December 11, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Hilaman runs an $84,000 deficit each year, from what I have read. Each club or private course manager, if they were to do the same thing, year after year, would be fired. Incidentally, the Recreation Department, is not the Department where Hilaman Park Golf Course’s budget is put. It is in the Utilities Department. Yes folks, it’s true and Rick Fernandez was the head of that same Utilities Department. More $$$ over there.

  5. Jane Reply

    December 11, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Fire ’em all!

  6. Paul Forshay Reply

    December 11, 2015 at 10:16 am

    As a taxpayer, I resent it that I have to subsidize this “business” run by the city. Not only yhst, but as a member of Killern CC I have to worry about my club having financial problems because of this city practice. The city should be REQUIRED to run any business that competes with businesses in its community, to run them a stand alone entity. It should stand on its own and not be subsidized by taxpayers that don’t even participate or use these city own facilities/businesses. For the city manager to gloat about hurting businesses that pay lots of taxes to the city is unconscionable.

  7. Unbelievable Reply

    December 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    I wonder what our city manager would say if private sector golf courses close and property values in these communities decline. Property tax revenue takes the hit which means the city just raises taxes again!!!!

  8. Glenn Reply

    December 15, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    The vast majority of the people who play golf at Hilaman GC will never darken the entry gates of Golden Eagle,Killern, Southwood or CCCC. Hilaman is a “blue collar”golf course. The players also pay taxes even though a great portion of them are living on a fixed income. I don’t know if Hilaman is operating at a profit or not. For those of you who want to belong to an “elite” club, you are certainly free to do so. Tallahassee is an “All American City” because of the things the city does for the people who live here. I am at Hilaman 5 days a week and I do not recall a stampede of people rushing in from GE,Killern, cccc or Southwood to take advantage of the “low prices.

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