Bowling Green is looking for someone to potentially lease the city-owned Golf Course at Riverview. While the city prefers that the course continue to be used for a golf-related function, other uses would be considered.
“It’s been an item discussed for many years,” Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said. “The park staff have worked hard for many years (to improve the facility) and have made great strides, but nationally, golf rounds are down. For a city our size, we have a surplus of golf courses.”
The city operates three golf courses: CrossWinds, an 18-hole course, and two nine-hole courses, the Golf Course at Riverview and Paul Walker Golf Course.
The Riverview course has always had the fewest number of rounds played and resulting least amount of revenue.
The Riverview course typically costs around $200,000 a year to operate and generates about $160,000 in revenue, according to city Parks and Recreation Department Director Brent Belcher.
The Paul Walker course, by comparison, costs about $270,000 to maintain and generates about $250,000 in revenue.
While “none of the golf courses make money,” Belcher said, Riverview has consistently been the least profitable. Belcher echoed Wilkerson’s statement that golf courses have seen less use nationally in recent years.
At a city retreat earlier this year, commissioners voiced support for the idea of potentially leasing the golf course, and the city has now issued a request for proposals from anyone interested in leasing all or a portion of the Golf Course at Riverview.
“We’re looking to see what someone can do,” Wilkerson said.
“In a perfect world, we want (the use) to be recreational. The first priority would be a golf-related function,” such as a driving range or golf instructional facility, Belcher said.
The Golf Course at Riverview surrounds the city-owned Riverview at Hobson Grove Museum and is adjacent to Hobson Park. The museum is centered on the historic Hobson family house, which was completed in 1872.
The total property is around 200 acres, with the golf course, the only part of the site the city would lease, about 80 acres.
The city obtained the land in 1965, and the golf course was completed in 1969.
Belcher said a stipulation of any lease agreement would be that the new use not impact the museum or park.
Belcher said the area is a unique spot in the city with much potential.
“It has some of the most beautiful scenes we have in Bowling Green,” he said, with rolling hills and the nearby Barren River.
If the course doesn’t lease, “a decision will have to be made for 2019” about the course’s future, Belcher said. The Riverview course remains open until it closes for the winter next month.