The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) has a few changes in store for the 2021 season at the Tomahawk Golf Course.
Last season the golf course saw a number of pandemic-induced operational changes, including the establishment of three staff members at the course to help regulate the flow of traffic, the requirement to book tee times in advance, and the implementation of a credit card payment system.
“The new operating structure, as implemented through consultation with the Grey Bruce Public Health Unit, was a surprising success,” said Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM.
Tomahawk had previously operated on an honour system with a pay box at the entry, which asked users to pay $10 per round.
Last season the town increased the course fee from $10 to $17.50 to help cover the staffing costs that were estimated to be approximately $37,100.
According to town officials, the price increase did not discourage use of the course.
“People really enjoyed Tomahawk in 2020 when we were open during the pandemic, and we're looking forward to that again this year,” said TBM councillor Peter Bordignon.
According to Gibbons, despite opening six-weeks later than in previous years, on June 27, Tomahawk saw an increase in use in 2020.
“In total, 9,234 rounds were played at Tomahawk, which is approximately 2,700 more rounds than the 2019 season,” he said.
Looking ahead to next season, TBM staff have proposed an increase in the per-round fee from $17.50 to $18. Changes have also been proposed to the course’s membership options.
As outlined in TBM’s 2021 draft budget, membership to Tomahawk will be available to those ages 16 to 60 for $325 a season, an increase of $50 from previous years.
In addition, the course will also be offering a senior membership for those over the age of 60 for $275 a season.
“Memberships guarantee revenues regardless of what the weather dictates. Memberships also allow the member to play as many rounds in a season as they wish,” said Gibbons.
Memberships will only be available to residents of TBM. Non-residents can continue to utilize the course at the pay-per-round fee.
Youth golfers, under the age of 16, will be able to access the course in 2021 for free.
“Staff did propose a junior membership as well but we just thought it would be better to keep that free to encourage more people to use the course and ensure Tomahawk remained affordable for the youth of our community,” added Bordignon.
The increase in the per-play rate and the general membership fee is said to help cover the additional costs associated with banking fees now that the course is accepting credit card payments.
In 2021, staff also plan to investigate the cost of a more permanent clubhouse to provide a better service and workplace for employees and to be able to sell confectionery goods.
For now, a small garden shed will be utilized as the Starter Shack, a temporary solution until the community services department investigates the total usage of the property including a permanent washroom facility and possible pavilion area.
The proposed changes to Tomahawk have been presented to council through the 2021 draft budget, which is expected to be passed at a council meeting scheduled for Feb. 8. The changes are subject to 2021 budget approval.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca