The Town of Auburn has just completed its first year as the operator of Pakachoag Golf Course, and the numbers look fantastic. During 2016, golfers played 20,803 rounds on the nine-hole course which is about a 75% increase from when the facility was privately managed according to DPW Director Bill Coyle who oversees operations.

PGC also brought in roughly $388,000 during the calendar year which more than offsets expenses. Financially, the facility is being managed as an Enterprise Account with retained earnings. Those funds can be used for future improvements. Town Manager Julie Jacobson told Auburn Mass Daily, “Our intent was to cover our costs and maintain a town asset. Profits will be reinvested as needed.”

During the October 2015 Special Town Meeting, a one-time expenditure of $118,150 was approved to get the course up and running. These funds were $15,000 for electrical upgrades for the irrigation pumps; $15,000 for one new pump; $23,150 for the down payment on the lease/purchase of 18 golf carts; and $65,000 for the down payment on the lease/purchase of the maintenance equipment required for the course. Although the start up costs can’t be paid back by the course, they were a great way to invest some of the $350,000 paid to the town by Johnson Golf Management over the past 10-year contract.

In the last home meet of the year, an Auburn High School golfer tees off at the fourth hole in the late afternoon. ©2016 John R. Anderson

Despite some solid research by the town’s administration, several residents strenuously objected to Auburn getting into the golf management business. Despite the controversy, town meeting members backed the Jacobson administration. The PGC budget includes health insurance, retirement and other benefits as well as town charges for doing payroll, accounting etc. That is typical of an Enterprise Operation.

In the first 6 months of 2016 (and the last six months of FY2016) when the course was open for about 3 months, $169,140 in sales was recorded and the operating budget was $121,000. The $48,000 profit is in retained earnings and has been certified by the Massachusetts Dept. of Revenue. The robust start was enhanced by good weather, a dedicated staff and an ever-improving course. Tomorrow, we will educate readers about all the work done during the 2016 season to make for a better future at PGC.

When asked about surprises during the first season Coyle said “the turnout.” He also said the biggest complaint was the wait to get on to the first tee. This occurred on the weekends when 160-200 golfers wanted to play each day. As the season went on, more and more golfers returned to the course to try it out or play again. Jacobson said, “People are coming back and liking the improvements. One goal was to attract former golfers and to create a good experience for them.”

PGC operates with an Advisory Committee consisting of Peter Deary, Ronald Otterson and David Roy. Long-time resident Dick Cote also served on the committee before taking a seasonal job at the course. Jacobson said this committee has brought years of experience to the town, and most of their recommendations are followed. She is most grateful to them, Course Superintendent Peter Corio, Club House Manager Kristen Pappas and the many involved town employees for an outstanding year.

Rates will remain the same for 2017, and there are holiday discounts available until Friday at midnight. More information and online purchasing are available on the Auburn Guide.