I’m a recent addition to the 50-plus years of golf at Vail Golf Club, and I strongly advise the town and the Vail Recreation District not to irreversibly damage the 18th hole.
I have owned and operated a golf course restaurant on the Front Range for over 12 years. I have been involved with several clubhouse redesigns and new construction projects. A consistent theme is the desire of the course owners, municipal and private, to create an event space to boost non-golf revenue, for both the course and other local businesses — lodging, retail, etc.
The result is typically cost overruns, damage to the golf course and ultimately loss of golf rounds and revenue. Additionally, these new clubhouses suffer from high restaurant concessionaire turnover, especially with public golf courses. Event bookings and sales never live up to expectations, and the captive golf audience the restaurants do have, feel like displaced second class citizens during special event times. Ultimately, these concessionaires can’t turn enough profit during the short season and fail to stay in business.
I strongly urge the recreation district board and Town Council to consider my experiences and to listen to the desires of the constituents they serve, and leave the course as is.
I have a better idea. Let’s close Riva Ridge on the mountain and make it a dedicated uphill race course for snowmobiles and motorcycles. That would bring a lot of business to the valley. Summer and winter race series run by the recreation district? Co-marketing opportunities with the lodging, restaurant and retail businesses? Snowmobile and motorcycle dealerships bringing sales tax dollars and employment.
So what if Riva Ridge is an important part of the mountain and visitor experience? There are thousands of other acres the skiers can use. This is growth and progress that will benefit the whole valley.
Just an overblown analogy, of course, but think about it. We’ve had enough displacing of the “links” in this valley to last a life time. Save the 18th.