DeKALB – While the DeKalb Park District’s new golf advisory committee scrambles to find a way to staff River Heights and Buena Vista before the 2020 season, some committee members are recommending the district hire a full-time manager or PGA professional for a trial period.
Scott deOliveira vacated his position as superintendent of golf operations and marketing to pursue employment elsewhere in September.
Tom Teresinski, one of the committee members, said the district should hire a full-time manager for a one-year interim capacity so the courses can remain open in 2020. He said doing so would provide the district more time to compile a three-year staffing model to get the courses to a sustainable operating level.
“I think what you’re hearing repeated by a number of us now is that an interim might end up being practical if you have reasonable staff,” Teresinski said. “There’s resources within the park system that may be able to be brought to bear besides just looking at the two to three employees that are actually left.”
Many members also said the district needs to invest significant money into the courses. Golf operations bring in 9% of the district’s total revenue and account for 10% of the district’s expenses, according to the district budget. For fiscal 2020, the golf fund is expected to be more than $65,000 in the red.
“I think we need better management, better cooperation of the people and proper funding,” Tom Anderson said.
When committee chairman Dag Grada asked where funding could come from, as golf operations face a $65,000 deficit according to the district budget, Teresinski said DeKalb should look to Sycamore as an example, or pull revenue from other places.
“An example of that is if you look at your recreation budget,” Teresinski said. “The recreation budget, as I looked at it, has youth sports, senior things, all the things that are part of recreation, but they also enjoy a $200,000 subsidy of direct tax income. Why is that?”
Committee member Vince McMahon, who said he also was representing 33 concerned residents of Green View Apartments who are worried losing the golf course could hurt their property values, suggested that the board also hire a PGA golf professional full time, similar to Kirk Lundbeck’s role at the Sycamore Park District.
Austin Sands, a seasonal employee at River Heights, said marketing efforts need to be improved.
“I worked almost every [golf] outing this year,” Sands said. “As far as I know, outings are not posted on the website. The only way somebody could possibly know if there’s an outing is if they go online to post tee times and they’re all full. We need a director of golf with a marketing intern, in my opinion.”