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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Good weather extends play at Monett golf course

Monday, November 23, 2009

(Photo)
Though the leaves may be colored and falling, a bright sunny day even in autumn can bring out ardent golfers to enjoy play at Monett's Windmill Ridge municipal golf course. Players wearing jackets advanced their game along the course last week. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
It may be November but golfers continue to play at the Windmill Ridge municipal golf course in Monett. Ideal weather this week helped extend the playing period.

"The season went well, about the same as last year," said Mike Knight, director of golf for the city. "At the end of September, revenue was up by more than $4,000."

The economy had a moderate impact on play this year. Knight sees his main challenge as attracting more out-of-town golfers to Monett. The weaker economy discouraged travel, said Knight. While it was harder to attract visitors, Knight said in-town golfers utilized the local course more.

After-work play, leagues and weekend golfing continued strong, Knight said. Thanks to several Monett industries, league play continued practically every evening, along with traditional league play on Thursdays and Fridays and the Ladies League on Tuesdays.

Tournament play ended up less than expected. Three scheduled in October all cancelled. Knight budgeted for 12 tournaments and had 11. Several new organizations had tournaments making up for others that did not take place. Knight felt sponsoring organizations were having more difficulty getting people to run the tournaments for them.

Overall Knight said the Monett course is in good shape. The city budgeted sod for fixing up several of the fairways this summer, and Knight commended the greenskeeper for his efforts.

"People will not come back if the course isn't nice," Knight said.

To help play, new signs displaying rules were posted this year. Also for the first time marshals were used, mostly on weekends and for league play. The idea of using marshals has been discussed for years. Knight found their help effective and will use them again.

Several trees around the course damaged in the 2007 ice storm had been given a couple years to recover. A number have not. The ones in poor condition will need to come out soon, Knight said.

Knight has been eyeing the cart paths on the west side of the course. Installed in the 1990s, the asphalt paths have seen changes due to tree roots. Knight has been talking to City Administrator Dennis Pyle about getting the cart paths replaced by street department crews at some point.

The city leases 24 golf carts for rent that are kept by the clubhouse. During league and tournament play, more are brought in to accommodate a larger crowd. Knight said the additional carts are only needed three months out of the year and he is satisfied with the number the city keeps on hand.

Use of private golf carts continues on the course, as does rental of space in the cart barn. Knight said the amount of private cart use has changed very little over the years. The city still gets fees from cart users. Around 10 spaces are open for rent in the cart barn.

Even though winter will settle in soon, Knight said the golf course is only closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

"We get play all year," Knight said. "If the weather is good, players will be here. If it's 40 degrees or less, people tend to stay home."

Knight continues to work a number of promotions to help draw in players from other towns. He has used coupons in newspapers and in electric bills. A popular strategy used at a number of courses has been offering a senior rate or a points program that allows players to earn points toward a free game.

Knight is looking to try such ideas in Monett. He already accepts several national golf cards, like the Gold Card International or a card from the American Lung Association for play at a reduced rate.

In 2011 the city's debt for building the second nine holes on the east side of Highway 37 will be paid off. Once the debt is paid, Knight is hopeful other improvements, like a new clubhouse, will be closer.

"The golf course brings in people," Knight said. "When they shop or stop for a meal, it helps other people in town. A lot of people come in from Arkansas or stop to play going to Roaring River. We're in a good place right here on this corner.

"The city has a nice facility out here. We want to keep it in as good a shape as we can and make it enjoyable to play on," Knight added.



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