MITCHELL — A plan to renovate the back nine at Lakeview Golf Course is moving through the city of Mitchell’s budget process but the city will need to move some money around to make the project happen in 2023.
The project is scheduled to cost $573,000, up 15% from the $494,108 estimate issued in July 2021 when the city of Mitchell completed an eight-step master plan for future golf course improvements. The price increase accounts for inflation but if the project is going to happen in 2023, it will have to be because the City Council makes it a priority during its budget work sessions, which resume at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26 at Mitchell City Hall.
Phase 1 was already budgeted and is set to begin in early October, after Lakeview Golf Course hosts the Class AA state boys golf meet on Oct. 3 and 4. That work calls for removal of damaged and diseased trees and those impacting the quality of the turf and cart paths, building a nursery green for the future construction of the new 11th hole.
During the City Council’s work session on Sept. 12, Dan Sabers, the former Lakeview Golf Course manager and current Mitchell City Council member, said that some of the Phase 1 work, such as thinning of trees along the new 11th hole, won’t have to happen if the city doesn’t plan to get to Phase 2 next year.
“Phase 1, all of that work is setting up Phase 2,” he said, adding that the Phase 2 work can’t be done in piecemeal fashion. “It isn’t like you do this half or this half,” Sabers said. “It’s got to be all or nothing. If you make a new green on 11, you take No. 12 out of play. … There’s no way you can cut anything out.”
The Phase 2 plan calls for abandoning the 12th hole, reconstructing the par-4 No. 11 hole and then constructing a new par-3 14th hole, plus adding new tees at No. 15.
“If golf course designers need work, the bid comes in more competitive,” Sabers said.
From a funding perspective, the city-owned golf course’s 2023 budget is expected to be smaller due to general fund contributions for 2022 that helped fund the first phase of the golf master plan upgrades. The course is also applying more than $129,000 from reserves to repay the city’s general fund that helped the course by new golf carts.
Given those factors and the expected reduction in revenue for the city of Mitchell crunching other parts of the budget, funding for Phase 2 of the work is not currently in the city budget for 2023.
The course remains popular with thousands of rounds of play per month. Through August, there had been 18,219 rounds of golf played at Lakeview, down from the 24,369 played by the same point in 2021. Nevertheless, Lakeview expects to reach about 24,000 rounds for the year, Lakeview Clubhouse Manager Eric Hieb told the Mitchell Golf and Cemetery Board last month. In 2020, 20,861 were played at Lakeview, while 18,900 rounds were played in 2019.
The course also hosted the South Dakota Golf Association’s amateur championships in August, which is one of the SDGA’s premier tournaments, and received strong reviews.
If approved, the Phase 2 plan would alter five holes on the back nine of the course and be part of changing the course to a par-71 layout over 18 holes, down from par-72.