Fort Myers to invest tax dollars into local golf courses

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

The City of Fort Myers is spending tax dollars to help struggling golf courses bounce back.

The city plans to invest almost $300,000 in the Fort Myers Country Club and Eastwood Golf Club to improve both courses.

The Fort Myers Country Club is a memorable spot for Carl Brunick.

“I actually came out here the very first time I played golf,” Brunick said.

Over the course of 35 years, Brunick has seen a lot of changes.

That includes the more than $5 million renovation Fort Myers helped fund for the course in 2014.

“I love the course, and I love the changes,” Brunick said.

Changes are coming to the city’s Eastwood Golf Course. Fort Myers has to renovate the back nine holes of the course to make way for the Hanson Street extension.

Some wonder why the city transferred the $300,000 it plans to spend from the parks and recreation fund to help Eastwood and the FMCC break even.

“Public parks are fine to put into the taxpayer money,” Lawrence Raichle said. “But when you’re generating money as a golf course type thing, I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

Raichle plays an occasional round of golf. But, as a taxpayer, he would rather see the money used elsewhere.

“I mean, Centennial is a park that doesn’t make money, so there’s a lot of things they could do for the community,” Raichle said.

The city’s director of golf, Rich Lamb, said it’s common for profits to fall short.

“The state of Florida’s got 1250 golf courses,” Lamb said. “About 200 are municipal, and less than five percent of those break even. They lose money because it’s an expensive venture to take care of a golf course.”

The city hired consultants to look at its property and profits, including local golf courses.

Brunick isn’t bothered by the city’s involvement.

“I don’t mind paying extra taxes that support activities that are good for people,” Brunick said.

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