Attempt to address decline in rounds at Westview didn’t live up to billing

Westview Hole 16

Golfers walk toward the 16th tee box at Westview Golf Course on Wednesday.

QUINCY — When Tristan Wood, an administrative assistant with the Quincy Park District, finished his report that claimed to address the declining number of rounds played at Westview Golf Course, president Roger Leenerts asked the Board of Commissioners at its Wednesday meeting if anyone had questions.

John Frankenhoff responded quickly.

“I have a question for the rest of the staff,” he asked. “Are you guys endorsing the ideas here, that we should be considering and pursuing these?”

“No. These are the thoughts from Tristan,” executive director Rome Frericks said. 

“That helps me,” Frankenhoff said. “Because a few other things jumped out at me.”

The veteran member of the Board of Commissioners then stopped, likely remembering this phrase.

If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

The 15-minute report, titled “Westview Golf Course Strategic Assessment,” was listed on the agenda as “Board Information/Education.” It was advertised by Wood as “an attempt to address that the number of rounds of golf played each year at Westview is falling.”

The number of rounds at Westview has fallen 41 percent from 2012 to 2020. That figure goes against trends shown in a 2020 report from Golf Digest. Rounds played across the nation were up 1.8 percent in 2015; up 0.6 percent in 2016; down 2.7 percent in 2017; down 4.8 percent in 2018 and up 1.5 percent in 2019. The National Golf Federation reports that the number of rounds in the United States increased 14 percent from 2019 to 2020 despite pandemic-related course shutdowns in March in April at more than half of 16,000-plus courses.

However, the report failed to provide any remedies for the decline at Westview.

Instead, Wood offered ideas about improving the golf course’s social media presence, better customer service and finding more applicants for jobs. All noble thoughts, but none will likely generate more than a few extra golfers.

He also suggested increasing opportunities for youth golfers at Westview — a worthwhile idea, but it won’t make up the difference of 19,181 rounds of golf between 2012 and 2020.

The commissioners were polite with their comments afterward and thanked Wood for sharing his work.

Asked after the meeting if Wood’s presentation failed to properly address the decline in rounds, Leenerts said, “I would say that that is reasonable. … But he was doing a good job of presenting some options to at least stop the current trend or stabilize it.”

The report didn’t address the price for a round of golf at Westview. It costs $41 to play holes 1-18 with a cart, with lower greens fees for playing holes 19-27, for people who walk, people who play during certain times of the day or the year, or people who are high school students or senior citizens. The report didn’t address the cost to play at Westview in comparison to other courses within a hour’s drive of Quincy.

The report also didn’t address the number of days the course is closed. Westview was closed for 113 days in 2018 (30,418 rounds played), 126 days in 2019 (28,982 rounds played) and 136 days in 2020 (27,369 rounds played) according to figures provided by the Quincy Park District. 

(Note: The number of days the course is closed is unavailable before 2015.)

The course was closed for a combined 126 days in 2016 and 2017. The number of rounds played in each of those years was more than 35,000. David Morgan, Westview’s director of golf, reported Wednesday the number of rounds played through May 21, 2021 is nearly 2,000 ahead of the corresponding date in 2019. (Westview was closed from mid-March to May 1 in 2020.)

Maybe this simplifies the issue too much, but the number of rounds seems to be higher when the course stays open. 

Wood’s report was part of a class he’s taking toward the completion of a master’s degree. He admitted at the beginning of his presentation that he “didn’t even know Westview existed” before he started working for the Park District earlier this year. The survey used to determine some of the recommendations in his report was filled out by less than 200 people in a city of approximately 40,000 people.

As a report for a college class, the “Strategic Assessment” was a decent first draft that a professor likely would have marked “incomplete” and returned for more information.

It just shouldn’t have been presented in a public forum like Wednesday night’s meeting.

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