A growing gamut of golfers
Hartford’s county course boasting record numbers


Oct. 27, 2015


Rick James of Waukesha watches his shot from the bunker on hole No. 9 Friday morning with Holy Hill behind him at the Washington County Golf Course in Hartford. James said he plays the course with his friends three-or-four times a year.
 John Ehlke/Daily News

Golf has been a good business for Washington County, as the municipal course in Hartford is posting all-time highs in the number of rounds played.

Planning and Parks Administrator Jay Shambeau told members of the county’s Executive Committee Monday morning that April, May, July, August and September were record months and October looks to be following suit.

“Interest in golf has been up and Craig and his staff have done a good job of retaining customers,” Shambeau said of Craig Czerniejewski, clubhouse manager and PGA pro at the course at 6439 Clover Road, Hartford.

Shambeau said the county’s course has also gotten some name recognition thanks to its proximity to Erin Hills, the golf course that will host the U.S. Open in 2017.

Czerniejewski shared statistics with the committee which showed the breakdown of the number of residents versus non-residents playing on the county course.

In 2012, 72.2 percent of golfers on the county links were county residents, with 26.1 from out of the county for a total of 23,108 rounds played. An additional 1.7 percent reflects package rounds of golf in which residency is not tracked, Czerniejewski said.

For a fee, non-residents of Washington County can purchase a card that allows them to golf for the same amount charged to residents, which has become increasingly popular, Czerniejewski said, with 22 sold in 2012, 40 in 2013, 61 in 2014 and 65 so far this year.

Of the 23,776 rounds of golf played in 2013, 70.7 percent were from county residents and 23.5 percent from visitors. An addition 3.7 percent was attributed to practice and 2.1 percent were package rounds.

The number of total rounds continued to increase in 2014, Czerniejewski said, with a total of 25,569 rounds played. The breakdown between residents and non-residents continues to show an overwhelming majority of golfers reside in the county, remaining about an constant 70-30 split with nonresidents, Czerniejewski said. He said 25,587 rounds have been played in 2015.

“We’re hoping Mother Nature lets us have a few more weeks of golfing as we will remain open until we have several days of a hard freeze,” Czerniejewski told the Daily News. “For the last couple of years, we have been open until Thanksgiving.”

Czerniejewski said for budgeting purposes, the course plans on being open from April 1 through October.

“If the weather is nice and we can open in March or if it stays nice and we can stay open until at least mid-November, that’s a bonus for our budget,” Czerniejewski said.

The year 2016 will be a banner year for the course, Shambeau said, as its last remaining loan will be paid off in March, making it debt-free.

Shambeau said that means annual revenue will be about $400,000 more than operating expenses and that capital expenditures for the course will be self-funded at about $200,000 a year.

Being debt-free and receiving $500,000 in 2014 as part of the DuPont Imprelis herbicide lawsuit settlement puts the course in a strong financial position, Shambeau said.

In 1995, Washington County purchased land to develop into a golf course, which opened in 1997, Shambeau said.

The course was recently featured by www.golfadvisor.com as one of the top 10 public courses in the country, coming in at No. 9.

Reach reporter Linda McAlpine at lmcalpine@conleynet.com