FOND DU LAC — Rolling Meadows Golf Course in Fond du Lac County is not exactly rolling in the green. In fact, since its inception, the publicly-owned course accrued a $2.6 million deficit. And since the course is owned by the county, taxpayers are getting the bill. But for golfers, the course benefits to the community are invaluable.
Just ask Cheryl Mohr, an avid golfer who frequents the course with her friends every Tuesday and Thursday.
“You cannot put a price on the friendships that we have because of the game of golf and Rolling Meadows Golf Course," Cheryl said.
But while friendship is priceless, the golf course itself is not.
Most years, the course's cost to the county is over $100,000. The only year since 2011 that the course was in the black was 2021, and that's only because of sales tax funding. Without sales tax funding, the deficit was about $37,000.
Fond du Lac County Executive Sam Kaufman said that when he came into office, addressing this deficit would be a priority.
“Do we want to treat it as a business, or is it recreation? That's really the core question we have to answer," Kaufman said. "If it's a business then we should run it like a business. Tax dollars are being used to pay the deficit that's incurred every year. And the taxpayer should be aware of that, that that's where your money's going."
To reduce the cost to taxpayers, the county is considering several options, including reducing the number of holes from 27 to 18, building a bigger clubhouse that will be open year-round or charging higher fees for golfers.
Rolling Meadows Golf Course manager David Brandenburg said he is willing to work with the county to find a solution.
"I think definitely the golf course is here to be an asset to golfing and non-golfing residents," Brandenburg said. "And to be an asset to non-golfing residents, it should stand on its own.”
And golfers say the course is an essential part of the community.
“We need to have something like this for the seniors in the county," golfer Judy Wolfe said. "It gives us something to look forward to. It keeps us active. It keeps us out and about all the time. This is where we see our friends. This is where we have our community. So this is very important to us.”
The county has established an Ad Hoc Community to consider all three options and present their findings to the county.