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City golf course opens, with private management
So far, so good, city and Prom Catering report
After a drawn out public process, the city-owned Phalen Golf Course is now open for the season, under private management for the first time.
The 18-hole, 6,100-yard recreational course is located in Phalen Regional Park.
Prom Catering now has the reins at the facility, which opened on Thursday, April 10, for tee times. The driving range opened the day before, Wednesday, April 9.
The group will also be managing Como Golf Course, which is not yet open because there’s still snow on the course.
The group is on a five-year contract with the city, which ends with the closing of the 2018 golf season. Prom Catering is responsible for grounds maintenance in addition to running the clubhouses at the two facilities.
The city’s move to bring in a private partner came in November 2013, after the Parks and Recreation Department reported that collectively, the four city-owned golf courses had lost $5 million since 2008. The city had lost roughly $400,000 annually between the Phalen and Como courses in recent years.
After scrutiny from the St. Paul City Council, a contract arrangement was approved between the city parks department and the private Oakdale-based catering company.
Brad Meyer, spokesperson for St. Paul Parks and Recreation, said the transition has gone well so far.
In terms of grounds and equipment, it’s been “a very seamless transition,” he said.
Tim Kuebelbeck, general manager for Phalen and Como golf courses, seconded that.
“The city has been a great partner,” he said. “We haven’t run into any issues yet.”
Meyer said Susie Odegard, special services manager at St. Paul Parks and Recreation, has been closely overseeing the process.
“It’s constant contact,” Meyer said.
In addition to Odegard’s involvement, Prom Catering has also had help from the city’s maintenance foreman at Highland Golf Course.
The company has also maintained a number of Phalen and Como’s pro shop employees, he said.
“People are going to see a lot of familiar faces,” he said.
The former golf pro for the course, Jody Christensen, will not be there, however. In her place will be Michael Turnbull.
Turnbull was working at the University of Minnesota’s Brookview Golf Course prior to coming onboard, and will continue working there. He’ll also be working at Como Golf course.
Some changes the public should see within a couple weeks will be an expanded dinner and drink menu at Phalen Golf Course. Prom Catering is installing new kitchen equipment and should be securing a liquor license within a couple of weeks.
Kuebelbeck said the company has already shown the facility to about 10 interested parties looking to throw events in the facility’s banquet hall, and that six or seven golf tournaments with food and drink functions have been booked.
“People will see more activity in the banquet hall,” he said.
Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.