Topeka Makes Decision on Golf Course Management

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The city of Topeka wants to continue its relationship with Billy Casper Golf.

Topeka City Manager Norton Bonaparte announced Friday the city will enter into negotiations with the professional golf management and operations company to expand its services. Right now, Billy Casper provides maintenance for Cypress Ridge Golf Course. The city will enter discussions for maintenance, pro-shop management and marketing services.

The city chose Billy Casper from five proposals, including one from Shawnee County. Others in the running were Golden Turf Inc., Auburn, Great Life Golf and Fitness, Ozawkie, and Orion Management Solutions Inc., Leawood.

Bonaparte said the decision was based on which proposal would be best for taxpayers and golfers alike.

"After having a Work Session with the City Council, and getting input from golfers who use the course, we chose Billy Casper Golf because their proposal appears most beneficial to the City taxpayers based on both financial and operations criteria,” Bonaparte said in a statement.

Bonaparte says the contract would be for five years. He says Billy Casper would be able to provide the service within the city's $793,000 2009 operating budget. He says the city would have the option in the contract to opt out if the money wasn't available.

In a news release from the city, Bonaparte said Shawnee County's proposal called for spending $2.7 million for course improvements, including $1.2 million for a new club house, with city taxpayers picking up 70-percent of the cost. He says city staff deemed the improvements unnecessary at this time.

“We considered transferring it to the County,” Bonaparte said. “But we realized that most of the improvements would be on the backs of City taxpayers.”

“Up to this point, we haven’t have had Billy Casper’s expertise on marketing,” Bonaparte said, noting that the company operates and markets over 90 courses nationwide, with more than 50 of those courses being owned by municipalities “We expect them to provide marketing expertise that will result in a higher quality service, a better value, for our citizens.”

Billy Casper Golf has managed the maintenance of the 18-hole golf course since 2006.