City managers discuss funding for Siloam Springs Country Club golf course

SILOAM SPRINGS — City managers discussed the possibility of funding the Siloam Springs Country Club golf course on Tuesday.

The discussion stemmed from a presentation given by Curtis Smith, a golf course representative, in which he described the current state of the golf course.

Currently, the golf course, also known as The Course at Sager’s Crossing, recently became managed by Maxim Golf Solutions, according to Stacy Gray, the pro-shop manager.

Course history

Smith detailed the club’s financial history beginning with a $120,000 loan the club borrowed in the late 1990s from local banks to redo greens and purchase new equipment.

Smith then said the club had 170 members in 2004. In 2007, the golf course’s board entered into an agreement with a concessionaire to run the clubhouse for profit, while the board retained control of the course, Smith said.

Membership began to decline around this time, and the club used a revolving line of credit to get through the winters, Smith said. In 2014, the club bought out the concessionaires and resumed managing the entire golf course, Smith said.

In 2018 the board cut staff to save money, and plans were made to keep the course going using members for work and the board even considered closing the course at the time, said Smith.

By then, membership had dropped to 25 members, Smith said. In 2019, the manager and other investors developed a business and began operating the course for profit with an agreement that a rental payment would be made to the club and enable it to cover its debts, Smith said.

During the summer of 2020, membership grew to around 60, but a year later the club began to default on its financial obligations and the golf course began looking for a suitable alternative to the fall, Smith said.

In February 2022, Smith met with a district sales manager for a golf cart company and the manager recommended working with Maxim Golf Solutions, which currently operates a network of nine facilities across Kansas and Missouri, said Smith.

Brian Minnis, founder and CEO of Maxim Golf Course, visited the Siloam Springs golf course in June to meet with course creditors and review the golf course and surrounding area, Smith said.

This analysis indicated the need to update and repair the current irrigation system as well as the basic costs of turf management equipment, which is estimated at $120,000. That amount will include $70,000 for irrigation repairs, $30,000 for equipment and $20,000 to secure Maxim’s management fees, Smith said.

Smith said he met with school officials as well as other civic and community leaders.

“The results of these meetings indicated a concern for golf in our community,” Smith said. “Corporate executives and employees told me at the time that one of the first questions a new employee would ask was where do you play golf here.”

Smith went on to say that these business leaders are asking the city to take the lead and said they will follow suit. Simmons Foods had already committed $30,000, Smith said. Smith also said he was here to ask the city if it will match Simmons’ $30,000 pledge as a challenge grant for other businesses.

If the city honors Simmons’ pledge, the golf course would have half the amount it needed and believed other community members would follow, Smith said. Smith then asked if Minnis, who was also at the meeting, could speak.

Minnis spoke about his brief career as a professional and how he rose to the position of golf course manager and how he eventually founded Maxim Golf Solutions. Minnis also said he enjoys Siloam Springs and the northwest Arkansas area.

“I hope the city, whether we’re involved or not, I hope they do everything in their power to keep golf opportunities going in Siloam Springs,” Minnis said.

Board reactions

Several board members have expressed their support for the golf course. Director Carol Smiley asked Minnis what was the first thing he thought Maxim could do for the golf course and did Maxim manage golf courses in Arkansas.

Minnis said the first thing Maxim could provide is agronomic expertise. Turf conditions at Siloam Springs Golf Course are very poor and it could be a sign of a lot of things, he said.

He also said it is expensive to run a successful golf course agronomically, but Maxim has a regional agronomist who visits Maxim’s properties and is already working on behalf of the golf course trying to assess and begin their recovery process.

Minnis also said that Maxim does not own or operate any golf courses in Arkansas and that the Siloam Springs golf course will be the first.

Director Mindy Hunt reviewed the numbers provided by Smith and also reviewed Maxim’s website for references. Manager Brad Burns said the problems with the golf course didn’t happen overnight, but said he was excited about what he had heard.

“I know this community,” Burns said. “We have the funds available even in this economic climate, and I know they would help us in this leadership role.”

Director Marla Sappington said she enjoyed visiting Minnis and Smith and said what was provided was very informative. Director Reid Carroll said he enjoyed the story provided by Smith and said he would like to see the city “put this thing in your jaw”.

City administrator Phillip Patterson said he appreciated the feedback and would try to bring a resolution back in the coming weeks for council to consider.