Cider Ridge golf course projecting more business next year

As far as Mayor Leon Smith is concerned, the money the Oxford City Council used to hire a company to manage the Cider Ridge golf course was well spent.

Birmingham-based Honours Golf, which the council hired for in February for $100,000 a year to manage Cider Ridge and pull it out of debt, is projecting increased business in 2011 compared to previous years.

“If you want money, it’s going to cost money to do it,” Smith said.

Casey Smith, director of golf at Cider Ridge, presented a proposed budget for the golf course to the council during its regular work session last week. The budget projects an increase in the rounds of golf purchased in 2011 for nearly every month when compared to the corresponding months of the last three years.

“That looks very encouraging,” Council President Chris Spurlin said of the proposed budget.

In addition, the budget showed a significant increase in the amount of rounds purchased this year beginning in April, when Honours Golf took control. For example in May, 2,313 rounds of golf were played at the course this year compared to 2,134 played in 2009 and 1,775 in 2008.

During a phone interview, Casey Smith said Cider Ridge was losing between $350,000 and $400,000 annually while the city was managing it.

“We’re cutting that by half this first year,” the golf director said.

Councilman Phil Gardner said during a phone interview Wednesday that he was glad the golf course was showing improvement.

“I’m glad we’re optimistic about this thing, especially with what we’ve been through with it in the past,” Gardner said. “It’s never been an extremely great revenue maker.”

To the mayor, Cider Ridge’s recent success is due to the improvements Honours Golf has made to the course and will continue to make in the coming months.

“People are getting more confidence out there finally,” he said.

In August, the council agreed to spend $785,000 on safety renovations at the course.

The renovations, scheduled for completion before the end of the year, include redirection for some of the cart passes and constructing new ones as well as upgrading the course’s irrigation system.

“It’s coming along well,” Casey Smith said. “The course is going to be a lot safer for the community.”

Honours operates 13 golf courses in the Southeast and employs approximately 700 people.

Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256-235-3561.

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