RW golf group makes its pitch
Red Wing Municipal Golf Corporation envisions a Mississippi National Golf Links that is high-quality and inclusive, the group said this week.
RWMGC presented its plan for the golf course publically Wednesday evening, a few days before the City Council plans to talk about MNGL’s future at the regular meeting 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
RWMGC proposes keeping MNGL a 36-hole course. If in the future it becomes necessary to downsize to 27, that would be considered, RWMGC President Robb Rutledge said, but they want to start with the full operation.
“The Highlands are unique,” he said, adding tourists especially like to golf there, while the lower 18 holes provide a high-quality course for locals and youth.
The board would hire a golf professional to run the pro shop and a superintendent to manage the grounds. There would be no management fee from RWMGC.
Council member Mike Schultz highlighted a key concern likely to come up as talks continue — necessary capital improvements and work at MNGL.
“Where is all this money going to come from?” he said, referring to both immediate needs and future work.
The city would need to help with maintenance at the course under RWMGC’s plan; however, the group says it thinks it can become self-sustaining at within the timeframe of the five-year lease it is proposing.
RWMGC would set aside about $50,000 a year in reserves for capital needs at MNGL, which would come from slight increases on green fees at the Highlands and golf cart rentals.
Rutledge said a walkthrough of the course with RWMGC members, city public works and a superintendent would help solidify what needs to be done and estimate costs.
The organization wants to open a bar and grill in the clubhouse right away to cater to golfers and is asking the city to pay for kitchen equipment such as a grill, stove and refrigerator. RWMGC would furnish the tables and chairs, glassware, flatware and other restaurant needs, the group said.
For bigger events in the future, such as weddings, RWMGC could work with local restaurants and caterers.
RWMGC’s board is made up of volunteers, which it says gives it an advantage over a for-profit business to weather economic changes.
The group’s board would consist of 15 members serving three-year terms, member Bob Tjossem said, so different locals could have a chance to be part of the organization.
The focus would be on both local golfers and tourists, RWMGC said. There also would be partnerships with the schools for youth programming.
RWMGC also wants to work with local businesses, and outside of golf would like to team up with organizations such as the Environmental Learning Center, YMCA and Audubon Society.
Council President Lisa Bayley said the ad hoc golf committee had met with RWMGC and the committee will meet again before Monday’s City Council meeting to develop a recommendation.
She said if the city decides to move forward with negotiations with RWMGC, there are a lot of details to decide and discuss.
“There’s just a lot of things to iron out,” Bayley said, but added the city is further along in the process than it expected a while back.
RWMGC provided the only response to the city’s request for proposals for MNGL.
The course has been closed this season, except for the driving range.
A copy of the group’s proposal, along with other MNGL background documents, is available at http://www.red-wing.org/mnglbackground.html.