Wheeling Park District hired to run Rob Roy Golf Course in Prospect Heights
The hiring of the Wheeling Park District to operate Rob Roy Golf Course in Prospect Heights, which is owned by another park system, will provide financial and other benefits, officials said.
Prospect Heights-based River Trails Park District and the Wheeling Park District this week forged the four-year Rob Roy agreement that includes a provision for to share revenue. The contract for the Wheeling Park District to run the 9-hole Rob Roy on Camp McDonald Road begins Dec. 1.
Juan Carlos Acevedo, superintendent of marketing and communications for Wheeling parks, said the agency will bring deep golf facility management experience to Rob Roy. The Wheeling Park District has owned and operated the 18-hole Traditions at Chevy Chase Country Club, including its banquet facility and clubhouse on Milwaukee Avenue, for 42 years.
"We expect that the sustained success in golf and food and beverage operations we have enjoyed will be an asset to this new undertaking," Acevedo said Friday. "Furthermore, the proximity of the two entities naturally complement each other."
River Trails Executive Director Bret Fahnstrom said the agreement with the Wheeling Park District to run Rob Roy presents "an exciting opportunity" for his park district.
"One of the really strong positives is the ability for the recreation team to focus on community recreation opportunities, instead of focusing a high level of staff time and marketing dollars into golf services, which mostly benefits a regional user more than the community in which the facility is located," Fahnstrom said.
Under the deal, those living within the River Trails and Wheeling park boundaries will get to play each other's golf courses at the cheaper resident rates.
The Wheeling Park District will supervise and manage Rob Roy's operations including the course, golf pro shop, maintenance, food and beverage services, membership sales, practice facilities and administration. The Wheeling Park District will receive a base management fee of $25,000 to run Rob Roy for the first year in 2020, according to the contract. It will keep 80% of net operating income and direct the other 20% to River Trails if it exceeds the management fee.
From 2021 to 2023, when results are expected to improve, the Wheeling Park District will pay a fee to River Trails that starts at $15,000 and rises to $25,000. The Wheeling Park District will retain 80% of income while sending 20% to River Trails.
Acevedo said both districts expect to come out ahead financially. Fahnstrom said the management shift from Virginia-based Billy Casper Golf to the Wheeling Park District should result in a positive revenue stream for River Trails in the second year or earlier through various efficiencies.
"Unfortunately, the course has been a bit of a financial burden to (River Trails) for at least seven of the last nine years and we hope to see positive numbers in 2020," Fahnstrom said.
While River Trails owns Rob Roy, the course's staff will be Wheeling park employees, according to the contract, which details who pays various costs such as marketing and capital improvements. Fahnstrom said the current course workers are employed through Billy Casper Golf subsidiary Rob Roy LLC and they will be given an opportunity to meet with the Wheeling Park District for job opportunities after Dec. 1.
Billy Casper Golf spokesman Rich Katz didn't return messages seeking comment.
Rob Roy's revenue was $694,255 with expenses of $756,161 in 2018, according to River Trails' year-end annual financial report prepared by the Sikich LLC accounting firm.