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Memberships up at local golf courses

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News Worthington,Minnesota 56187 http://www.dglobe.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/4/0711/n0906p29006c.jpg?itok=74s_7DJ-
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Memberships up at local golf courses
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- The number of memberships at Prairie View Golf Links has increased more than 60 percent in 2010, a change attributed to recent reductions in membership fees.

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In October, the Worthington City Council approved seasonal green fees for individuals, couples, families, students and senior citizens that had been decreased by more than $100 in some cases; cart storage and annual drive range fees were increased. For example, the early bird seasonal fee decreased from $585 in 2009 to $450 in 2010.

As of April 18, the course had a total of 183 members -- corporate tee markers excluded -- up from 112 last year.

PVGL manager Alice Hoffman said she will be sending out a survey to new members soon that asks two questions: What enticed you to join? and What will it take to keep your membership next year?

"I know it's the lower prices," she said of the increase.

At the Worthington Country Club, general manager and golf professional Jim Hall said golf memberships were down slightly this year -- hovering below 200 -- while the number of social memberships is "considerably higher."

He said the club has instituted a flat fee for use of the dinning room and lounge and gained 437 social memberships this year, up from about 45 in 2009.

"Our golf memberships are not going to jump drastically," he explained. "Food and beverage is where we have to make our increase in revenue."

He said the club loses a portion of its members each year due to old age, and said courses will rely on youth and non-traditional golf players like Hispanics for future business.

He acknowledged courses were being hit by the recession.

"You can't blame them with the economy. There are some people who just can't afford it right now," Hall said. He added membership rates for courses similar to WCC double and triple as their location nears the Twin Cities.

The Worthington City Council commissioned a study of PVGL and other area courses in February of 2009. The results of the study, completed by Effective Golf Course Systems, are available online at www.ci.worthington.mn.us/ under the heading "Hot Topics." 

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