This is blog for brandoninfo.com, a website dedicated to news in the Brandon community. Contributers include the staff of the Argus Leader, the Brandon Valley Challenger and the website itself.

Golf course-for sale?

November 19th, 2013 by Alica

Brandon has received an offer from a private citizen to lease the municipal golf course with an option to buy. Here is a link to the story that ran in the Nov. 13 Brandon Valley Challenger:


What do you think of this offer? The golf course has not turned a profit in recent years and is dependent on the weather for much of its revenue. On the other hand, the city is two-thirds of the way, or better, through the loan for the clubhouse. Once that loan is paid off, that money will go toward the bottom line and the course’s financials will look a lot better.

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Uncategorized, City business |

44 Responses

  1. Burger King Says:

    No golf course makes money, its a quality of life, like the pool. You have these things in towns to attract people. The golf course has been a part of Brandon forever and to lose it to someone like Walsh would be devastating. Walsh is going to tell everyone what they want to hear and some people are stupid enough to believe it. He isn’t going to change a thing or make money here. If you want what he is proposing than go to Willow or Bakker Crossing. We don’t need that in Brandon. Some of you just think of the bad golf you could play at these other courses instead of the community.

  2. Driver Says:

    I think Brandon is getting spendy (for a public course) now.

    Watch that increase with the sale. . .

  3. Former club champion Says:

    If you want the course to remain the Brandon Municipal golf course, you need to contact your city council rep and let them know how you feel. If you don’t voice your opposition, you never know what they might do.

  4. anon Says:

    The current management is not cutting it. Anything the city does needs to improve the bottom line. Sell it, lease it or change management. Just do something to at least make it break even. Encourage Brandon people to play golf IN Brandon. Many go to neighboring courses because of the current management and how they treat golfers that aren’t part of their “clique”.

  5. passplayer Says:

    #4 were you at the Council meeting last Monday night?. He gave the council 2 suggestions that would save the golf course $130,000 annually which would keep it in the black for many years. And if there are so many golfers leaving the the Brandon Muni course how come they have 3 times as many season pass players than Willow Run?

  6. small town Says:

    #1 - What do you mean “someone like Walsh”? Do you have some knowledge you can enlighten us with. I have not had any first hand dealings with him to be able to form an opinion, so please share your knowledge.

    From what I hear of his plan involving the other courses around Sioux Falls sound interesting to me.

    Another question I have is regarding free golf. Who is entitled to free rounds of golf at the course? Is it only current employees and council members or is it past council as well? Seems to me that all on the council have something personally to lose if free golf goes away with the sale.

  7. alan Says:

    #5 That is because Walsh/ Willow does not want members they are actually discouraging membership. All they want is corporate outings which is why he wants the Brandon Facility. By the end of the lease/ buyout option the city would have sold their golf course facility for something like 130,000 dollars. Plus for the first three years any course improvements Walsh would make the city has to pay fifty percent of, How long do you think it would take to eat up and surpass the measly 130,000 dollar profit. At the last city council meeting they said the course currently loses about 50,000 a year and the clubhouse payment is 120,000 a year with about 6 years left on the loan. Do the math and you can see how quickly the course is going to become the largest money making venture the city has. In contrast the city pool loses around 120,000 thousand dollars a year with no profitability foreseen EVER. Selling the city golf course would be a huge mistake for the city of Brandon. All members would end up being members at other area courses because members cannot get on a Walsh owned course. I believe in June of this year Willow had only 5 days for the entire month that did not have a corporate outing.

  8. Burger King Says:

    He is trying to turn all these courses into health clubs with a little golf on the side. He also continually tells everyone that he has a bunch of golf courses that are doing this with him and he only has Willow and Bakker Crossing. Like I said before he is telling people what they want to hear, when in hindsight it is all a bunch of bull. That whole group along with the group they hired to watch over the course are in this together. The city should really look into that and blame themselves for that decision which cost the city money as well. The city would be foolish to sell the course with the amount that is left on the loan, which is minimal when you think about it. To let Walsh lease it would basically be giving it to him for free. Someone coming in and offering a dollar would be a better deal for the City. If someone is stupid enough to do this it will be Caddyshack 3 in Brandon, SD.

  9. whopper Says:

    #6 the council are the idiots whom hired the consultant and pay him 1500 a month There is no bigger waste of money on planet earth than that. It should also be noted the consultant and Walsh are business partners and friends of the mayor. Sounds shady if u ask me

  10. Anonymous Says:

    #7 good points. I got my hands on the actual proposal from Walsh just recently and here are the facts. And for those who want to see it go and ask for a copy from City Hall. Some of this was mentioned in another thread but I will re post it.

    First off the letter is addressed to the Mayor and the Brandon Valley Golf Course. Not sure where that golf course is but you would think a guy who is supposedly as smart as Walsh would at least know the name of the golf course he wants to buy. That is strike number one before even getting into the real good stuff.

    He is offering $140,000 for 3 years to lease the golf course. WHICH BY THE WAY IS NOT COMING OUT OF HIS POCKET because the golf course will pay that. After 3 years he is offering to buy the course for 1.2 million however minus the lease payments of $420,000 so that nets it down to $780,000. (actual out of pocket cost from Burger King Man). And the city will still owe $650,000 or something close to that on the note for the clubhouse because he is not assuming the loan. It also states that whatever improvements he makes the City pays half which will be deducted from the purchase price.

    ANOTHER REAL KICKER in the deal is he says that property taxes will be a maximum of $20,000 and will be frozen for 20 years. Damn I would love to say that about my property taxes on my house! Wouldn’t every property tax payer in Brandon love to say you can’t raise my property taxes for 20 years!!!

    And number #1,#8 you are a little wrong. For $780,000 investment for a 3 1/2 to 4 million dollar facility DUMB AND DUMBER could turn a profit. By my calculation the City of Brandon is getting screwed out of about 2 mill. The golf course could have a $30,000 loss for the next 60 years and still come out ahead.

    And #7 Zane said at the council meeting that the course has averaged a $30,000 loss over the last 6 years. But he also said they spent $200,000 back into the course on capital improvement projects etc. And if you figure out what that costs the taxpayer it is something like 6 bucks a year. Basically peanuts to what the course brings to the City.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Correction. 6 bucks per houshold.

  12. alan Says:

    #10 I agree with you fully. Can you imagine the city cost for the improvement’s Walsh will make during the three year lease. I will guarantee that all improvements will be made and done while it is only costing him fifty cents on the dollar. I doubt it will take much for the city to spend more on their half of the improvements that they are making off of the lease.

  13. Old Duffer Says:

    As #1 said, what did the swimming pool, ball park, or all of the parks, loose this year, or every year. What did that cost every household?? It is a way of life, yes, but it is hard to compete with all the other courses around (count them), just like our pool and parks. It is what we have. The public spoke about the park $$ improvements, but bitch about what is there. It’s a “no win” what ever the city does. Yes voice your opinions with the city council.

  14. Mitch Says:

    I don’t understand, how does the city course lose money every year. But little hidden valley privately keeps going?

  15. carl spackler Says:

    Mitch #14, Well, lets see. Jim reiter has a lawn care business, golf cart rental/sales business, snow plowing business, and has been in the golf course construction business. But I’m sure he could easily give all that up because Hidden Valley is making a ton of money. Alica, it would be cool if posters on this blog would do just a tiny bit of research before making ignorant comments on this blog. But hey, it is actually quite entertaining. Hahaha.

  16. Anon Says:

    I try to follow what the city leaders are doing by reading their meeting minutes. Why are their minutes so lacking? He is an excerpt from 11/18/13:

    ORDINANCE #508
    Alderman Brooks moved Alderwoman Hansen seconded to give first reading to Ordinance #508. TITLE: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRANDON, SOUTH DAKOTA REVISING 1-3-5. A roll call vote showed Brooks, Bruning, Fish, Hansen and Hausman aye. Motion carried.

    Um..ya…this tells me what? The ordinance pertains to what? It revised what? The motion passed what? I would like to see a few more details on what was voted on. As taxpaying citizens we deserve better.

    I also see it was suggested to “raise the water rates 3% and double the sewer rates”. It is for infrastructure. Okay, fine. Details on what infrastructure is needed and cost would be nice-not just we need to increase rates.

  17. Side of Fries Says:

    Re:#14 - because they didn’t build a $1.2 million+ clubhouse that they couldn’t afford.

    In 6 years (after the city council mistake that is the clubhouse is paid off) they will be cash flow positive. The golf course has actually been doing a very good job financialy the last 10 years but gets buried in the debt of the clubhouse.

    Unfortunately, this bit of information is not clearly communicated to the public nor understood by the council. A savvy businessman then sees this as the perfect opportunity to come in and lowball the city for one of their most valuable assets.

  18. Tee'd off Says:

    Sounds like a bunch of the “Good Ol’ Boys” don’t want to lose their hangout? How long can a business lose money before something is done to correct it, time to clean house!

  19. "Good ol" Boys Club Says:

    Hey come on now Tee’d off. I think you need to re-tee because that post went out of bounds. So much for letting you in our club. You see, in order to be a member you must have common sense.

  20. tee'd of hit it out of bounds Says:

    Hey Tee’d off how about when your house is 3/4 paid off I will come in and buy it for 130,000 dollars and then you will agree to pay for half of any improvement’s I make to it, let’s say 1 million dollar’s worth of improvements so your half will be $500,000. does that sound like a good deal to you. Because that is about the deal Walsh is offering for the golf course. Oh and by the way there probably isn’t a city in America that is making money off their amenities like parks, pools, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, and golf courses. Of all of those that we have in town the golf course is the only when that will ever be profitable and that is not to many years away. The pool loses almost three times as much a year maybe we should just bulldoze that in. While we are at it we might as well bulldoze all the parks also no many being made there either, might as well develop the lots for homes. Oh wait no parks, no pools, no ball complexes no golf courses no people wanting to move to this city.

  21. Tee'd off Says:

    I did not say the Walsh deal was a good deal but maybe it’s time for a change in the way the golf course is ran. New people, new ideas?

  22. Many Questions Says:

    1. Is it even possible for the city to sell donated property?
    2. If they can sell it don’t they have to claim it as a surplus?
    3. If they must claim it as a surplus, doesn’t it have Togo through a bid process?
    4. Can city aldermen continue in their elected positions when they no longer live in the ward they were elected? I understand we may have two that fit this situation.

  23. tee'd of hit it out of bounds Says:

    at 23 as to #4 I have heard that also

  24. Mitch Says:

    Carl spackler, I understand Reiter has other businesses going on. But im just guessing he wouldn’t be doing hidden valley just for fun.

  25. anon Says:

    Which city council reps moved and don’t live in their wards? Why hasn’t this been brought up by other city council members, the mayor or the city manager? Highly unethical. Alicia can you check on this?

  26. Former club champion Says:

    In this weeks Challenger, I believe there was a major print error in the article about the golf course. It stated that Mr Walsh suggested a $400,000 yearly lease. According to his proposal, it was $140,000 per year. There seems to be a lot of faulty information floating around about this deal.

  27. Zane Swenson Says:

    27 you are correct there are a number of incorrect bits of information in the Challenger article. The lease payments in Mr. Walsh’s proposal were $140,000 per year for 3 years and the purchase price was 1.2 million for a net of $780,000 like 10 said.

    Also, I did not state at the council meeting that the golf course should be treated as a for-profit business first and an amenity 2nd. I said that we have done a good job over the years as treating the golf course as both an amenity and a business. However, I said that IF the council decides that they want this operation to be a for profit business solely, then here are some suggestions. And the 2 main suggestion I gave are relatively simple and will have the most impact on the bottom line. 1. Spreading out the current loan to 20 years (which will save the golf course $60,000 to 70,000 per year in cash flow). And the 2nd one is to discontinue health insurance for the 4 full time people which will save another $57,000 per year. If the council did these two things the golf course would pretty much always operate in the black and still leave room for purchasing equipment and capital improvements each year.

    And the article says I agree with Amundson’s and Walsh’s $300,000 to $500,000 capital improvement projects. I said they would be nice but I also said if the city is going to treat the golf course as a for profit facility then they need to ask themselves if these improvements are necessary and will they make the course more money. And I said the answer to those 2 questions is NO to all the improvements. They are not absolutely necessary and they will not make the golf course more money.

    It was quoted that discontinuing health insurance would save the golf course $17,000 that is incorrect it would save the golf course $57,000 annually.

    The name of the Brandon Resident who donated 30 acres of land and the original Clubhouse(which we operated out of for 22 years) was named Fred Cesander not Fred Sanford.

    If anyone has any questions regarding the golf course business feel free to contact me at brandongolf@alliancecom.net

    Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving.

  28. wee ice mon Says:

    Where is the report that Mr. Amundson produced? I can’t seem to find it online.

  29. Curious Says:

    4 people cost the city 57,000 for healthcare. Do all the city employees and police officers have the same expense to the city?

  30. Anonymous Says:

    @30 - the answer to your question is yes. The city pays for all city employees health care, 100%. This is completely unheard of in the business world.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    @31 - not COMPLETELY unheard of, but definitely pretty rare. In SD, your statement (”completely unheard of”) is actually pretty likely correct.

  32. anon Says:

    What about the sewer rates rising 87%? That is quite the spike in charges. It would have been nice if the city would have been saving for this project over time and then improve the sewer system-like the school did with the most recent bond.

  33. guest Says:

    How about those water and sewer rate increases? Sound a little crazy to me does the city council have no forward thinking or do they only know how to knee jerk. let’s plan a little people but I guess it is too late now.


  34. Anon Says:

    Agreed #34. We need some leaders on the city council. We also need a stronger mayor to lead this town. What we have just isn’t working very well. Any interested people out there willing to run? Does anyone have any names of quality leaders that we can recruit to run for city offices?

  35. Alan Says:

    @33 I would agree the current Mayor, Council and city manager have no foresight and that put things off to the last possible minute and then all they can think of doing is raising our rates and our taxes. If they are paying for 100% of city employee health care that needs to stop. I pay for a large percentage of my health care so I feel they should also. Then maybe they can apply that surplus money to other area’s and not constantly want to raise rates and taxes. I AGREE IT IS TIME FOR SOME CHANGE AT CITY HALL!

  36. Alica Says:

    Council member Bob Bruning resigned as of Nov. 30 because he has to spend the next few months out of state. The mayor is looking for a replacement to finish Bruning’s term, which ends next May.

    If you live in Ward 3 and are interested, call City Hall at 582-6515 or contact the mayor or any city council member.

  37. Anon Says:

    Bruning might have resigned because rumor has it he does not live in Brandon anymore?????? as the rumor also is that one other council person also no longer lives in the city limits?????

  38. Alica Says:

    It is my understanding that the Brunings plan to spend the next several months out of state.

  39. WTH Says:

    How are these things overlooked? Trying to be on a council in a city that you no longer live in? And the mayor don’t know this information?
    And who is the other one, expose them and get new blood on the council, we need changes!

  40. Anonymous Says:

    Blaine Jones

  41. Anonymous Says:

    Where does Blaine Jones live?

  42. nobody Says:

    same house he has lived in since 1999. He is still there and has not moved.

  43. Alica Says:

    I get a weekly report of all property transfers in Minnehaha County, and I have not seen Blaine Jones’ name come through. So he has not sold his house, assuming he is owner and not just renting. And assuming his name is on the deed.

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