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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Public golf agreement reached for Elkhorn

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley City Council last week approved an agreement for the general public to have regular access to the 18-hole golf course at the Elkhorn Golf Club.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, March 18, council members issued permission to Mayor Jon Thorson to sign an agreement between the city and golf course owner CG Elkhorn Golf that effectively guarantees the public access to 20 percent of the tee times at the club.

The agreement will be applied in addition to a separate 1994 agreement that guarantees up to 20 percent of the daily rounds of golf to members of the Sun Valley Elkhorn Association homeowners’ group.

The vote came after a lengthy set of negotiations in which Councilwoman Ann Agnew sought to limit the restrictions CG Elkhorn could exert on granting tee times to golfers who are not members of the private club.

Agnew specifically objected to language in the proposal that would allow golf course managers to restrict taking reservations from the general public until 24 hours before the scheduled time of play.

"We would like to succeed in having this as an amenity for groups that come in," Agnew said.

Ultimately, the council and CG Elkhorn representatives struck a compromise that was a clear victory for the city—which has no real legal authority by which to require public access.

The agreement approved by the city guarantees that the general public shall be entitled to "20 percent of daily rounds of golf reasonably available for use each day during the golf season."

Limitations on golf course access for the general public provide that:

  • No tee times will be offered to nonmembers before 2 p.m. during the high season, from June 15 until Labor Day.

  • No tee times will be offered to nonmembers before noon during the shoulder seasons, before June 15 and after Labor Day.

  • With payment in advance, tee times can be reserved three days in advance of the requested time of play. Without advance payment, tee times can be made 24 hours before play.

  • Nonmembers can be "bumped" from their tee times in favor of members who request their slot. However, CG Elkhorn agreed to provide any "bumped" nonmember with the next available tee time.

  • Nonmembers cannot play at the facility more than twice per month.

  • Nonmembers who pay greens fees to play golf will have access to the golf clubhouse.

David Hennessy, a partner in CG Elkhorn, said tee times for the public should not be in short supply.

"The ability to make a tee time after 2 p.m. is generally wide open," he said.

Tee times are projected to be available in 10-minute intervals.

Don Shirey, general manager of the club, said the high-season cost of play to the general public will be $140 per person, the same as the cost to unaccompanied guests of club members. The fee includes a golf cart and use of the club’s driving range, he said.

Members of the SVEA who are not club members are entitled to an additional 20 percent of tee times—no fewer than six per day—through a pre-existing 1994 contract.

CG Elkhorn Golf—which is affiliated with CG Elkhorn, the owner of the Elkhorn Resort property—announced last year that it intended to convert the semi-private Elkhorn Golf Club to a private facility. The company has commenced in selling memberships.

Hennessy said CG Elkhorn had to balance allowing public access to the course with considering the interests of current and future members.

"We’re giving up a little bit in terms of the private nature of our course, but I think it works for everybody," he said.


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