City of Hartford and Connecticut Section PGA Golf Business Consulting Agreement
Goodwin Park and Keney Park Golf Courses
There is a long legacy of golf in Connecticut’s capital city. Its two golf courses, always opened to the public for play, have endured through hurricanes and floods, as well as significant changes in the City and national economy. Goodwin Park Golf Course first opened in 1906 in the 237-acre park designed by the famous firm of Frederick Law Olmstead. Keney Park Golf Course was designed by heralded golf course architect Devereux Emmet and opened in 1927. In their heyday, both courses supported more than 75,000 rounds of golf annually.
In the fall of 2013, after nearly twenty-five years of leasing the City of Hartford golf courses to private, for-profit management firms, the City of Hartford decided to move the operational ownership back to City Hall and under the supervision and direction of the Department of Public Works. An ad hoc committee was formed of city residents and officials to research various business models and potential partnerships with local non-profits, and in 2014, the City formed the Golf Oversight Commission to ensure sound operational and financial management of the Courses.
After extensive review, the City decided to partner with both the Connecticut Section PGA and KNOX Inc. The PGA and the City signed a consulting agreement, through which the PGA would help the City set up its new business model. The PGA hired a dedicated employee to serve the City, and used the expertise of additional PGA Professionals to serve as subject matter experts. KNOX Inc., which has a horticultural based job-training program for City residents, was invited to provide its program graduates as members of the golf course maintenance crews. This way, the courses are a source of employment for city residents – jobs that include specialized skills and experience in golf course maintenance and management that will provide a lifetime of job opportunities for those employees.
After the City invested more than $1 million dollars in equipment, repairs, and proper maintenance practices, Goodwin Park Golf Course reopened in June of 2014. Conditions steadily improved in 2015 to the enjoyment of golfers throughout the region, and more improvements are planned for 2016. Keney Park Golf Course had to be closed in 2013 for a complete restoration and the City has invested close to $6 million dollars in this project, and an additional $4 million of upgrades to the club house is scheduled for 2016. The course restoration project, overseen by Dusenberry Design, has now been completed and the course will reopen in May of 2016.
The City has employed top professionals to oversee the day-to-day maintenance, educational, and operational elements of the golf courses. Guilmette Golf, LLC, certified course superintendents, provide the maintenance oversight at both courses. PGA professional Kevin Cloud operates the daily and educational elements of Goodwin Park Golf Course, as PGA professional Peter Seaman does for Keney Park Golf Course. The City has formed a strong management team consisting of the PGA, Knox, the Golf Oversight Commission and Public Works. This strength is reflected in the increase of rounds played at Goodwin Park Golf Course to 26,630 (a one year, 164% increase), and growth of revenues to $606,242 (a one-year 153% increase.) Moreover, the City in 2016 is hosting on its golf courses two major CT-PGA golf tournaments: the Hartford Women’s Open and the Connecticut PGA Championship. These are significant accomplishments in the two years that the City has resumed oversight of its courses.
Golf is back in Hartford!