Heading into the 2013 season, the Braintree Municipal Golf Course will invest in itself and its patrons in a variety of ways.
Likely purchases include a new sales system that will feature smartphone apps in addition to regular Internet and telephone tee time scheduling, a refurbished food and beverage cart, and investment in more pro shop merchandise.
The course also plans to enter into a five-year lease for 47 new golf carts, and is seeking a towable groomer for the back of its snowmobile that will help create walking and cross-country skiiing paths in the winter.
All of the spending received favorable recommendations Wednesday night from members of the Committee on Ways & Means.
Daryn Brown, Director of Golf Operations, told the committee that the course saw "unprecedented" growth this year in gift card sales, totalling $35,000 just between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A promotion that offered a free round of golf with a $100 gift card helped, he said.
"They're good for everything and they're good forever," Brown said. "Gift cards from a retail aspect are a win, win, win."
To keep up with merchandise sales at the pro shop, and the expected sales this spring from all the gift cards, Brown requested that $20,000 be transfered from the Golf Course Enterprise Fund's retained earnings account to the course for merchandise.
During calendar year 2012, the course saw $60,000 in shop revenue from an investment of $39,000, and it still has $38,000 in wholesale merchandise value on its shelves, Brown said.
"We'd hate to short change the pro shop because we can't purchase the merchandise," Councilor Sean Powers said.
Along with that transfer – subject to approval by the full council – the committee OK'd $12,500 to cover unexpected medical insurance expenses, $11,000 for the beverage and food cart and towable groomer, and $22,000 for the new point-of-sale technology.
Tee time booking has steadily migrated to the Internet from telephones over the past few years, Brown said, from a 50-50 split to 60-40 and an expected 70-30 ratio this season. Many older customers still request the ability to schedule via phone, though, and so Brown said the new system will allow a range of services.
In addition, the course expects to introduce a loyalty key card like those used at CVS, supermarkets and other stores. It will allow residents to more easily identify themselves as such for discounts and also help the course keep track of customers' spending habits.
The town will also enter into a five-year lease for 47 golf carts at a cost of $35,000 per year if the majority of the Town Council approves the spending. It will return the carts at the end of the contract rather than purchase them and go through a complex selling process, Brown said.
The first lease the town entered into for carts on its own was three years. A similar three-year, non-purchase lease would have cost the town more per year and in the long-run, Brown said.