By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you play golf, you know it can be expensive. Even St. Paul is worried about its cost and is considering using private vendors to run two of its four golf courses because they’re losing too much money.

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City officials say Phalen and Como Park golf courses have run in the red since 2005. So, the city is trying to figure out a way to put an end to the more than $600,000 a year it loses by operating them.

“The operating expenses of the golf courses are not being met by the people who are golfing there, so the city has had to fill that gap,” Joe Campbell said.

Joe Campbell is Mayor Chris Coleman’s communications director. He says the mayor says at the end of the day, the city has to be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.

“At some point, you have to balance the services you provide with the financial impact it has on the city and unfortunately, in this case, golf courses were just not making the cut,’ Campbell said.

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Brad Meyer, with St. Paul Park and Recreation, says golf as an industry has seen a downturn.

“In 2005, we had about 140,000 rounds for the four golf courses. This year, we are on track to have just over 90,000 rounds,” Meyer said.

Meyer believes the only way to deal with decreased numbers and loss of revenue is to partner with a private company.

“Really what a private vendor will do, it’ll stop the bleeding. It will stop the financial hemorrhaging we are currently doing. Without an RFP processor or private vendor to come in, the alternative is closing the gold courses and that’s not something we want to do,” Meyer said.

As for city employees who keep these courses running, Meyer says they will be placed at the two other golf courses in town or at another facility run by the city.

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The city council will discuss the issue at a meeting next week.

Reg Chapman