Springboro pays off Heatherwoode golf course, ending decades in debt

The city-owned Heatherwoode Golf Club is finally paid for.

This month, the City of Springboro made its last payment on debt originally refinanced in 1999 for the 18-hole, 7,000 yard course.

The city set aside $849,761 this year to pay off debt through the Royal Bank of Canada on the course, most of which lies within the Heatherwoode housing development.

“The Heatherwoode golf course is now officially paid for,” Deputy Mayor Jim Chmiel said as other council members and staff began clapping during the June 18 Springboro City Council meeting.

In fact, Chmiel said the city enjoyed nearly $50,000 in additional savings through early repayment of the refinanced debt due to mature in 2022 on the golf course opened in 1991.

City Manager Chris Pozzuto said the city also saved $492,118 in interest charges through the refinancing of $3.2 million in 2010.

In total, the city paid more than $8.1 million for the golf club, including $5,445,000 in principal and $2,672,151 in interest, according to the city.

Chmiel noted changes have been made in 30 years the course has been in operation.

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“We’re happy to have such a nice facility,” he added at the June 18 meeting.

Eleven years ago, the city took over management of the course from Billy Caspar Golf. The manager, Tom West, joined the city staff.

While out from under the course debt, the city continues to spend fluctuating amounts to maintain, operate and improve the course.

For example, the council approved $109,038 in general funds for removal, disposal and replacement of the kitchen exhaust fan systems in 2015 and budgeted $661,000 in capital projects funds over five years for the clubhouse, to resurface the parking lot and replace an aging barn with a new storage facility.

While most of the course is east of Ohio 741, four of 18 holes are west of the state road, known as Main Street in Springboro.

Last week, cart paths as well as the course were busy, despite COVID-19 concerns.

“We’re packed. I didn’t have one open tee time,” West said while steering a cart around the course last Thursday morning.

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Course fees bring in $2.1 million-$2.3 million a year, according to the city.

The course was closed for four days due to concerns about spreading the new virus.

“We opened back up, following all state and Warren County Health District guidelines once we were permitted to do so. We almost immediately had the same number of golfers as we usually do during this time of the year,” Pozzuto said.”People wanted to get back outside.”

Rates for 18 holes of golf, including carts, fluctuate throughout the weekday from $49 and on weekends and holidays from $57, West said. There is no resident discount.

The cart fleet includes ATV-like Elwees and offers on-course GPS, interactive scorekeeping, playing tips and access to the club’s food and beverage menu.

Still not everyone in Springboro plays golf, but the 110-acre course, with two crossings within the subdivision, is considered a public service.

“It is open green space maintained by the City, just like any other park area within the City. Heatherwoode just happens to charge a fee to use it, like other communities charge for public pool use and memberships,” Pozzuto said.

No membership is required.

“Just like any other open green space park, Heatherwoode offers another park-like alternative for residents to enjoy. In addition, studies have shown that neighborhoods surrounding a well maintained golf course, can have positive effects from 8-15% increases in property values.”

MORE: City officials say publicly funded golf courses are community assets

Depending on the season, the course employs 20-80 employees.

No major improvements are planned through 2021.

Weather permitting, the city expects to break even on the course this year, Pozzuto said.

The clubhouse is available for weddings and parties and used by the city for events throughout the year.

Heatherwoode also holds parties, sometimes including bourbon and cigar tasting, for golfers on the clubhouse deck. It boasts the city’s only walk-in humidor and cigar shop.

In 2009, then-City Manager Christine Thompson said the golf course has been on a “roller-coaster ride” during her two decades with the city.

“I believe it will be an asset when the debt payments are made,” Thompson said at the time.

While Springboro’s golf course is now seemingly flourishing, Dayton is closing two courses to offset budget pressures.

“We have managed to continue to maintain Heatherwoode to the highest levels through golf fees, wedding, golf outings, etc. It is a very desirable place to golf,” Pozzuto said.

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