Pro shop

Katelyn Cruze sits ready to assist golfers with paying their greens fees Sunday afternoon at Litchfield Golf Course. The golf course pro shop is not open, and golfers are asked to pay for their round of golf at the window, observing social distancing guidelines.

By the time they meet next, Litchfield City Council members could be approving the hire of a part-time pro shop manager for the Litchfield Golf Course.

The Council approved a plan during its Feb. 16 meeting for city staff to develop a job description and seek someone to fill the role of a pro shop manager at a salary of $15,000 to $20,000 for the coming golf season.

City Administrator Dave Cziok told the Council he already had someone in mind for the position, someone who worked at the pro shop last summer.

While finding a pro shop manager was a goal set by the Council during a recent work session, Cziok moving on that was difficult.

“I struggle a little with the management,” he said, “because the council hasn’t completely explained to us what the new vision or goals are.”

Two weeks earlier, the City Council had agreed to scrap plans for a transition in management and go forward with a 2013 contract between the city and Litchfield Golf Club Inc. That agreement, however, deals primarily with GCI’s management of the restaurant in the clubhouse at the golf course.

Meanwhile, the city continues to maintain the golf course itself with existing city staff, something it has “handled extremely well for the last eight years,” Cziok said.

That arrangement leaves the pro shop — and marketing of the golf course — as the one area needing attention. Cziok said his initial job description thoughts included the pro shop manager handling advertising, retail sales and training of pro shop staff, as well as spearheading new initiatives such as membership cards. While the pro shop manager would not be expected to put in hours “behind the till,” Cziok said, there likely would be times on rainy days with light pro shop traffic when the manager might be the only person needed to staff the pro shop — a decision the manager would have to make.

Cziok said he didn’t have a clear answer about how the manager’s salary would be paid. He expected that with the right person and situation, pro shop revenues would increase, which could help pay the salary, “but I can’t quantify how much. I doubt this person will self-fund … given time, it’s possible.”

Mayor Keith Johnson supported the idea of the part-time manager, saying that person training staff could help reduce some of the complaints that were received last summer about pro shop employees.

Council member Ron Dingmann asked what the relationship between the pro shop manager and Golf Club Inc. would be.

“There shouldn’t be one,” Cziok said. “We’re in charge of the pro shop, they’re in charge of the restaurant.”

In answer to a question from council member Darlene Kotelnicki, Cziok said he did not forsee reducing the budget for staffing the pro shop. “This (manager position) would be additional,” he said.

Cziok also stressed again that the pro shop manager would be doing nothing inside the restaurant, or in terms of golf course maintenance. The duties would be directed specifically at the pro shop and providing patrons a good experience there, in addition to publicizing the course, tournaments and memberships.

The Council unanimously agreed to give Cziok and city staff the authority to develop a job description and seek a person to fill the role, and Cziok said he thought that could be done by the next meeting, March 1.

The City Council also adopted the fee schedule for 2021, which was reviewed by golf course staff, city administration, Mayor Johnson and council member John Carlson.

Golf cart purchase

Hiring a pro shop manager is part of the city’s effort to ramp up for the fast-approaching golf season. The City Council took an earlier step toward that goal during its Feb. 1 meeting when it approved the purchase of 28 golf carts – 14 gas-powered and 14 electric carts — for a total price of $183,750.

The city has been leasing a fleet of golf carts at a cost of about $22,000 per season, and golf cart rentals typically bring in about $40,000 annually, according to Cziok.

By purchasing the fleet of new carts outright, Cziok said, the city should realize a greater return.

He said that 28 carts probably will not be enough for the busiest times of the season — such as Fourth of July, Watercade and other events — but the city will rent additional carts to ensure there are enough for those times.