Revenues fell sharply at LU golf course

Published 12:33 pm Thursday, March 31, 2016

To sustain the Longwood Golf Course’s operations, the university had to use $178,474 in other funding sources to make up the difference between $90,464 in revenues and $268,999 in expenditures in fiscal year 2015, according to Justin Pope, chief of staff to Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV.

In fiscal year 2007, the total revenues from the course were $147,745 compared to the just over $90,000 collected last year.

With the recent news that Longwood is closing its course, the university has established an agreement with the Manor Golf Course that in exchange for an annual fee of $150,000, Longwood’s men’s and women’s golf teams receive full access to the course and facilities at the Manor Golf Course, located on U.S. 15 south of Farmville.

“Additionally, the arrangement allows all Longwood faculty, staff and students (to) play the world-class course at the Manor for the same rates they currently pay at the Longwood course,” said Longwood spokesman Matt McWilliams.

He said the exception is that individuals playing on the weekends must rent a golf cart based on rules set forth by the Manor.

According to the Manor’s website, current summer public golf rates at the course are $39 during normal weekdays. On weekends and holidays, the price jumps to $49.

“Longwood has had a contractual arrangement with the Manor golf course for roughly a decade, similar to an arrangement Hampden-Sydney (College) has had for the last several years,” McWilliams said. “The current version of the agreement took effect last summer.”

Longwood University’s website states the daily cost for faculty, staff and students is $5 at the Longwood Golf course during the weekdays. On Weekends and holidays, the price is increased to $10.

Other potential fees could include cart rentals, range fees, club rentals and pull-cart fees.

In a February press release from the university, it was announced that the Longwood Golf Course would no longer be open to the public after June 30.

Vice President for Students Affairs Dr. Tim Pierson said in the release that public use of the golf course has seen a decline within the last decade, citing that the reason behind the closure was not related to finances.

According to Pope, “the latest membership figure for the Longwood Golf Course is just 93 people, including 15 Longwood faculty/staff and 12 Longwood students. In fiscal (year) 2007, total generated revenue for the Longwood golf course was approximately $147,745. In the most recent fiscal year (2015), that figure fell to $90,464. Expenses related to operating the course last year were $268,999, so that means we had to use $178,474 in other funding to make up the difference.”

Pope said the university’s golf course has never really been used by a large amount of students and is not a profit center.

“On the scale of a nine-figure annual university budget, the subsidy is not enormous, which is why we have said the decision is not fundamentally a financial one,” Pope said. “It is a question of mission and priorities, particularly when only a small number of our students use the course.”

Pope said Longwood is currently only one of three universities that operates a public golf course, including Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, according to information from the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA). Only 56 of 2,500 private and public universities nationwide operate golf courses open to the public, he said.

Longwood’s release stated that the Manor Golf Course and the Farmville Municipal Golf Course would both be available to the public following the closing of the course.

“Longwood is fully aware that there are members of the community who have enjoyed the golf course for many decades,” said Pope. “We take seriously our obligation to serve as a resource for the local community to the greatest extent possible — but only if we can do so consistently with our mission and responsibility as good stewards of public higher education.”

Following June 30, Longwood’s course will only be available to the university teams as a practice space.