CHICOPEE — After ordering the Golf Commission and city auditor to discuss these expenses — revenue and status of being self supporting at the Chicopee Golf Course with the Finance Committee — the city received an update on Feb. 15.


At the Jan. 16 City Council Meeting, Ward 3 City Councilor Susan Goff discussed if the Chicopee golf course can be self-supporting.

She said, “I did have a meeting with [the] auditing department, and I did get all the facts and figures and one thing — when the Golf Commission is reporting their income versus revenue, they’re not including the indirect costs. The numbers came in worse than I thought they were going to be.”

Based on the report Goff received, the only year the golf course made money was 2021 and if you add in all the indirect costs from 2013 to 2023, the course has lost approximately $1.9 million.

She added that she wanted to refer this to the Finance Committee to see when the golf course plans to be self-sufficient because right now, it is a municipally-owned course.

“Right now, we have a lot of departments, a lot of essential departments that don’t have the money to give pay raises to hire people, to staff. The golf course is not an essential department. I want to see a full report of the numbers from the Finance Committee,” Goff said.

Finance Committee meeting

The Finance Committee hosted a meeting on Feb.15 to receive a review of the golf course.
Many residents talked during public input to express that they weren’t against the golf course specifically, but wanted a full financial report to see if the revenues can be raised or money can be saved for other essential departments, like public safety or schools.

“I have been reading about in the media how the state revenues are down, and that the governor has asked cities, towns, different state agencies to cut their budget. As a taxpayer and member of the city, we have to look at where are we going to make those cuts,” said Ward 9 City Councilor Mary-Beth Pniak-Costello.

Some residents also took the time to talk about the golf course as the crown jewel of Chicopee and the positive economic impact it brings.

Stanley Walczak said, “It’s one of the top golf courses not only in Massachusetts but throughout New England. One of the things I’m proud about the golf course, it helps the other nonprofits in this community. Last year the golf tournament at Lorraine’s [Soup] Kitchen raised $17,500. It helped people with food insecurity. Many organizations host golf tournaments there.”

In 2023, golf course costs totaled approximately $1.5 million and revenue totaled $1.3 million for a “loss” of $140,605.

Chicopee Golf Course Director Mike O’Neill discussed the narrative that the golf course is losing money.

He said, “I have been there for about 10 years and when I started, it was not in the best of shape. The Golf Commission did hire an outside entity to take care of the maintenance of the golf course. Since then, each year, they have done a tremendous job turning that golf course around.”

Although the revenue at the golf course has been rising each year, O’Neill acknowledged that the costs have also been increasing.

“I think it was in 2013 the city did go out and get a new irrigation system. That is a $1.8 million bond. Each year we get hit with $130,000 of that bond plus the interest, which means basically every year we are starting off as little as $165,000 in the red. It is tough to make that up,” O’Neill added.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, people playing golf have increased, causing the revenue to continue to grow at the golf course.

According to a new study released by the American Golf Industry Coalition, roughly one in seven Americans played golf in 2022, resulting in $101.7 billion in direct economic impact, an increase of 20% from the $84.1 billion in economic impact in 2016.

O’Neill said, “That bond being set aside, we would have been in the black $350,000. Yes, we have been close to $2 million or so in the red the last 10 years but I will say, with increasing our revenue each year and by doing that, we have been raising prices pretty much yearly, but we cannot price ourselves out of the other municipal courses. We are confident that our revenues are increasing each year.”

The golf course has a driving range, pro shop, advertising opportunities and other ways they also make revenue. According to O’Neill, that is not represented in the financial report.

City Auditor Sharyn Riley added, “It’s not part of the general fund so I don’t include it on the general fund because the golf course is funded by the tax levy and the revenue they generate goes into the general fund.

The Chicopee Golf Course also hosts the American Junior Golf Association each year that welcomes some of the top golfers from all over the world to the event for a week of action.

Ward 6 City Councilor Samuel Shumsky said that since 2018, the AJGA tournament has had a positive local economic impact of about $1.2 million.

“The golf course, like all other city departments and services, wasn’t established for a profit. The golf course, like a playground, swimming pool, boat ramp, etc., provides a service for our residents and we don’t do it simply for financial gain,” Shumsky added.

On Feb. 20, Goff thanked everyone involved at the Finance Committee meeting for their time and give a more in-depth explanation of the revenue and expenses.

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