JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Following a thorough review of
historical trends, and dialog with the greater Anchorage golfing community
and representatives from the Alaska Congressional delegation, the Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson and 673d Air Base Wing commander announced the
Eagleglen Golf Course will not open during the calendar year 2014 season.
This study began more than a year ago when JBER officials assessed the
installation’s program may have excess capacity. It revealed a 37 percent
decrease in patronage over the last decade, and losses exceeding $1.9
million over the past three years and more than $2.2 million over the past
JBER hosts three of the four 18-hole golf courses in the greater Anchorage
area. The installation’s three courses have a combined 54 holes and are open
to the military community and the public. The courses are a popular
attraction to the local community, which represented approximately 66
percent of the players over the last three years.
JBER hosted informational public meetings March 5 and 6. Members of the
community provided inputs, which were reviewed and considered. However,
based on declining golf participation and the associated loss in revenue,
the commander determined that the closure of the Eagleglen Course was
necessary and the most feasible manner in which to reduce the installation’s
excess golf capacity while keeping in mind the long term health of the
installation’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) fund and the golf
Community suggestions for improvements included consolidating managerial
staff, selling old equipment, hiring seasonal local employees, reviewing
pricing strategies, and improving tee time reservation systems. Many of
these suggestions have been long-standing practices at JBER’s courses and
recognized as strengths during annual financial audits. Improvements to tee
time reservation systems at the remaining base courses are planned for the
fall of 2014 through a new, online point-of-sale system. Additionally,
pricing strategies to bring in additional golfers during slower periods are
under consideration, but such initiatives must be balanced with Air Force
directives governing civilian use of MWR activities. These directives
require, in part, that written agreements be in place from the owners or
operators of local civilian golf facilities (within 10 miles or 30 commuting
minutes) stating they don’t object.
“We studied a variety of options which forecasted a reasonably optimistic
growth in play this season, as compared to 2013, while continuing a hard
scrub of operating and recapitalization costs,” said Air Force Col. Brian
Duffy, JBER and 673 ABW commander. “Unfortunately, the only courses of
action which resulted in us generating sufficient business to cover all
costs and contribute positively to our MWR fund involved significantly
increasing greens fees for our civilian patrons or closing portions of our
JBER’s greens fees for civilian golfers are comparable to those seen at
other Anchorage-area courses.
“We are convinced the impact of a significant price increase, to the level
required to generate positive cash flow, would result in substantial
reductions in patronage, especially when compared with prices at other
venues in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley,” Duffy said.
Alternatives of closing only one of the Moose Run courses and keeping
Eagleglen open resulted in similar adverse effects to the JBER MWR fund,
while closure of both Moose Run courses would eliminate 36 holes from the
overall inventory in the Anchorage area, likely overtaxing Eagleglen to a
point where patronage would dip further. Duffy went on to state, “Closing
only one of our three courses allows opportunity for the most flexibility to
handle larger events while still leaving room for our individual players.
Continuing the status quo simply places all risk on programs designed to
support our men and women in uniform, their families, and our civilians
assigned to JBER.”
The JBER team is committed to continuing a productive golf program at Moose
Run, as expressed by the majority of patrons who have offered a 96 percent
satisfaction rate. Planned improvements at Moose Run include widening tee
boxes, filling in unnecessary bunkers, and addressing repairs to the bridge
on the Creek Course. This large investment, a must to restore a proper route
and pace of play, was determined not financially possible with the usage
rate decline over the last decade. Also, Moose Run’s sizeable parking area
and larger clubhouse space will continue to provide adequate room for
regular patrons and larger functions.
The decision for Eagleglen not to open this year is not unique to JBER. Air
Force wide, 19 Category C (self-sustaining operations) MWR facilities closed
in 2013, including the golf course at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. In recent
years, courses have closed at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and McConnell Air
Force Base, Kansas.
JBER officials stated Eagleglen will remain open during the winter season
for cross country skiing as part of the installation’s “Fit to Fight”
program. The base will continue to review options for re-purposing the golf
course for other uses during the summer to positively impact the morale and
fitness of JBER personnel.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson leaders will be available to discuss this
decision at 10:30 a.m., April 29, at the Eagleglen Golf Course club house.
Media interested in interviewing JBER leadership on this topic should
confirm attendance by e-mailing email@example.com, or by calling
the JBER Media Operations office at (907) 552-8986/8941. Media should arrive
at the Eagleglen Course no later than 10:15 a.m., for the 10:30 a.m. press
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is a joint war-fighting installation made up
of 16,000 service members and civil servants supporting and defending U.S.
interests in the Pacific theater and around the world. For more information
visit www.jber.af.mil, the JBER official Facebook Page at
http://www.facebook.com/JBERAK or call (907) 552-8986/8941.
Submitted by Erin Eaton