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Orangetown’s golf course gets makeover

Orangetown’s municipal golf course is going through major changes as the town tries to turn around its recent losses.

Two golf professionals have been hired to operate the Blue Hill Golf Course and its pro shop.

Chris Connelly of Nanuet, who has been golf pro for Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, will be in charge of Blue Hill, along with Bret Watzka of Pearl River, who has worked for Blue Hill in the past several years under the former golf pro for the course, James Stewart.

Aric Gorton, Orangetown’s superintendent of Parks and Recreation, said he expected the new management team to implement new ideas to attract more golfers.

“We are looking forward to a different approach up there going forward,” Gorton said.

Based on the three-year agreement with the town, Connelly and Watzka will be paid a total of $230,000 annually for operating the pro shop, organizing tournaments, assisting Gorton as golf professionals and employing personnel to collect green fees and issue carts.

Gorton said Blue Hill has been hosting just below 60,000 rounds per season in recent years.

If the new management team can increase the number to more than 62,000, the two pros will get a bonus of 7 percent of the gross green fees and golf cart fees collected for those rounds in excess of 62,000, the agreement said.

Though the golf course is still covered with snow, contractors have started the long-awaited clubhouse renovation project.

The entire renovation will require several months to complete.

But the most crucial part, the pro shop, is to be ready by mid-March, in time for the expected opening of the course, Gorton said.

The pro shop portion of the clubhouse building has been gutted and was ready to have concrete laid Tuesday.

The rest of the building, which houses new locker rooms and restrooms , will be completed in July, Gorton said.

The Blue Hill Golf Course has been losing money in recent years.

In 2009, the course’s expenses exceeded its revenue by about $374,000.

Town Board member Michael Maturo, who has been a liaison for the Blue Hill Golf Course Advisory Committee, a volunteer group, said committee members have contributed ideas to bring more revenue to the golf course during the economic downturn.

He said the committee’s proposal to start a corporate membership program has been a success. Attracting more tournaments would be the next focus, once the clubhouse is completed. Looking into staffing costs has also been on the committee’s to-do list to balance the budget, Maturo said.

Orangetown Supervisor Paul Whalen said a primary goal is to serve Orangetown residents, not to make money. Still, he was hoping that the changes would attract more rounds, which would bring more revenue.

“That’s what we are hoping for,” Whalen said.

Source: www.lohud.com

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