HOT SPRINGS – Slightly more than a year after agreeing to move forward in pursuing a master plan for Southern Hills Golf Course, the Hot Springs City Council was able to hear the highlights of what was learned during the process.
Kevin Norby, representing Herfort Norby Golf Course Architects, LLC, of Chaska, Minn., gave a brief overview of what his company believed were needed updates to the city’s golf course at the council’s March 16 meeting.
“This is a master plan for the golf course,” Norby said. “Your golf course is like any community asset; it needs to be taken care of and maintained to continue to be useful.”
Norby said that the summary provided recommendations for how the city could make the course more enjoyable to play for the average golfer, with cost estimates, phase-in strategies and a plan of action.
“You have a beautiful course,” he told the council and large audience that attended the meeting. “In many ways it is as nice or better than the Elks or Hart Ranch in Rapid City. At 5,900 yards, it is somewhat short, but still in the window of the distance many golfers want to play.”
But, Norby said, in some areas the course may be too challenging for the recreational golfer.
“There are some unique challenges,” he said, “such as needing to clear ravines on tee shots or approaches that make the course play harder.”
The plan recommends several different phases. In the first year, Norby said, as there is no budget for major renovations, some less costly measures could be implemented, such as some tree removal and the adjustment of fairway lines to make the course more open and playable.
A major need at the course is improvement to the irrigation system on the old front nine.
Norby said that while his company was doing a plan for the course, Jim Keegan of Denver, Colo., had done a financial review of the course, as it compared to others in the region.
Norby said that Southern Hills had $400,000 in revenues in 2014 with $460,000 in expenses, which included the new maintenance shed. In response to a question from the audience, Norby said that most municipal courses are subsidized. “It is difficult to have a self-sustaining golf course,” he added.