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Clear Lake's Veterans Memorial Golf Course records 10 years of profitability
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Clear Lake's Veterans Memorial Golf Course records 10 years of profitability

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Clear Lake City Councilman Mike Callanan still remembers when someone suggested the city purchase the Veterans Memorial Golf Club a decade ago.

“I sat there thinking, ‘Oh boy, we don’t want to run a golf course,’ but it was dire straits,” he said.

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Bob Parker of Minneapolis, originally from Mason City, takes a shot from a fairway on May 7 at Veterans Memorial Golf Course in Clear Lake.

And now, the public golf course is celebrating its 10th season of profitability.

The nine-hole course positioned lakeside on 61 acres at 2000 N. Shore Drive is owned by the city of Clear Lake and operated by the nonprofit Veterans Memorial Golf Club Foundation Inc.

“We had a very good year at the golf course. The revenues for 2020 were up 15% over 2019,” club president Jay Barragy told the Clear Lake City Council earlier this week. “A big part of that was our membership.”

In 2020, the gross revenues of Veterans Memorial Golf Club were about $444,813, which is nearly $57,000 more than last year.

The golf course’s gross revenues totaled about $353,000 in 2016, $351,000 in 2017, $362,000 in 2018 and $387,850 in 2019.

The net income for 2020 was about $61,181, an increase of nearly $40,000 over last year.

In 2020, the golf course had about 275 season pass holders, including 51 new ones, and about 60 Friends of Veterans Memorial Golf Club, according to the foundation’s annual report.

In recent golf seasons, the course has experienced conditions that made it unplayable for days at a time, and this past year, COVID-19 provided its most challenging operating environment since its inception, Barragy said.

https://youtu.be/Hybn_T4YUa4

He said the foundation applied for, and received, federal coronavirus relief funds in April, which were necessary as more staff was needed to clean its carts and facilities.

The course was established in 1922 and was purchased by the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce in 1945, which dedicated it to the city’s war veterans and named it the All Veterans Golf Club.

In 2011, the city of Clear Lake purchased the golf course after the nonprofit operating it encountered financial trouble.

Since then, the city has had an operating agreement with the Veterans Memorial Golf Club Foundation, which became a nonprofit in 2012, to manage and operate the public golf course and facilities.

“We also want to thank you guys, the city of Clear Lake. I really can’t believe this has been 10 years,” Barragy said. “I think it was this month 10 years ago, we were starting this little venture, so kind of crazy, but again, thank you for everything that you guys have done.”

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Golfers take shots on a putting green at Veterans Memorial Golf Course in Clear Lake.

In 2020, the City Council extended its initial operating agreement with the foundation for the second time until Dec. 31, 2022.

Under the agreement, Veterans Memorial Golf Club Foundation pays $1 per month in rent to the city.

The foundation is also responsible for the financial management of the course and its day-to-day operations.

Fees for public admission to the golf course, including greens fees, membership fees and others, are submitted to the city for review, according to the agreement.

Callanan said the partnership between the city and the foundation has resulted in “nothing but improvements to the golf course and golf” in Clear Lake.

“I, too, would like to give a big ‘Way to go’ to the board and the way it’s been run, and once again, another pat on the back to Scott (Flory) 10 years after the fact for coming up with a plan that not only worked but prospered and kept a beautiful golf course alive and well in Clear Lake, Iowa, so thank you very much,” he said.

City Administrator Scott Flory said while it’s been a great partnership between city and community, much of the golf course’s success can be attributed to its volunteers and staff.

The foundation employs Jeremy Amosson, course superintendent, and Mike Oimoen, director of golf and clubhouse manager — both of whom renewed their contracts for the 2021 golf season, Barragy said.

The Iowa Golf Association recognized Amosson as the Nine-Hole Superintendent of the Year last fall.

“The course had an awful lot of traffic on it this year — more than I’ve ever seen — and it was held together and always in great shape,” said Gary Hugi, Clear Lake city councilman, extending on Amosson’s recognition.

The foundation, with help from its donors, sets money aside for the course’s grounds and facilities improvements. The improvement fund balance will be about $41,854 this year, the report states.

Clear Lake Mayor Nelson Crabb, an avid golfer, said the golf course is an important part of Clear Lake and it will likely continue to be thanks to the partnership between the city and the foundation.

“We’re a small community but that course is a part of us, and hopefully will be that way, and with you guys running it the way you have in the past, it will continue to be the type of course that you just described,” Crabb said.

Ashley Stewart covers Clear Lake and arts and entertainment in North Iowa for the Globe Gazette. You can reach her at ashley.stewart@globegazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0533. Follow Ashley on Twitter at GGastewart.

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