Area course hit hard this year

Subpar weather has double-bogeyed business and left Park Hills Country Club leaders looking for a way to add some green to their accounts.

The club’s board is convening a membership meeting tonight to discuss ways to raise money after a cold spring and wet summer resulted in 2,000 fewer rounds of golf so far this season, according to board President Steve Ritchey.

The initial suggestion is to assess each of the 199 golfing members $300, which will address the downturn in business, Ritchey said.

Park Hills is a 6,100-yard, 18-hole oasis of green located within the Altoona area’s most dynamic commercial area that includes the Logan Valley Mall, Park Hills Plaza, numerous restaurants, hotels and Logan Town Centre.

The admission that money is needed comes at a time when there are “many rumors flying around” that Park Hills, founded in 1927, is in critical financial trouble, something Ritchey and others said is not true.

But many options are being considered to address the club’s immediate need for money and its long-term future, Ritchey said.

Selling the club is not out of the question, but that option is anything but certain and is not among the plans that are being discussed at the moment, Ritchey said. Members, he said, need to decide “how we want to proceed with the club.”

Park Hills’ July newsletter, posted on the club’s website, tells much of the story.

It states bluntly – after citing several improvements at the club – “Now though, we regret to inform you that the Park Hills Country Club is in dire need of funds.”

At a meeting to be held at 6 p.m., “We will propose an assessment to all voting golf members and discuss the financial situation.”

“We cannot continue to run Park Hills with such light participation from our members.

“The board is evaluating all options. Clearly, none of these options are what the board wants – we want to continue Park Hills and preserve the golf course for your enjoyment,” it states.

Ritchey concluded, “We need a better cash flow.”

Altoona attorney A. Thomas Farrell has represented Park Hills for more than two decades, and he summed up the problem by saying, “It’s been a bad year,” which is why the board is asking approval for a $300 assessment on the golfing members.

He confirmed that at some point the board is interested in selling the club, which has been valued at $2 million.

But, he said, “That’s in the indefinite future.”

He said the club depends on rounds of golf to meet its expenses and bad weather has cut use of the facility.

Farrell said the club has a “great groundskeeper” who has maintained the course and greens in “wonderful shape.” And Park Hills is well-run, he said, adding, the problem is the weather.

Board Treasurer Lisa Michelone said despite rumors, it was “not true” that the club was at a critical juncture.

The meeting tonight was for the general membership to consider an assessment, she said.

The club, she said, offers many types of memberships, noting there are golfing, social and pool memberships.

She said a sale was “not in the immediate future.”

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.