Management changes in the works
As much as the management has tried to make Castlewood Golf Course profitable it just hasn’t happened.
The shape of the public golf course has dramatically improved since TruRing LLC, owned and operated by Jim Trudeau, took over the public facility in 2007. A management agreement is set to expire the end of this year, so the Forest Lake City Council took steps to keep their working relationship with TruRing intact and unanimously approved a contract with its new terms.
The primary change from the previous 5-year agreement is the basis for the city’s compensation. In the past, a fixed amount of $10,000 was established. However, with the exception of one year that rent has been waived or reduced by the city council in response to the financial challenges of the course and golf industry as a whole.
At a Jan. 3 workshop, Mayor Chris Johnson noted that Forest Lake is at an advantage in that a lot of larger cities are subsidizing a struggling municipal golf course. The consensus of the council then was to have the lease payment be low enough to result in a net gain, and would also make the management accountable.
“This might have more income potential,” City Administrator Aaron Parrish said of the new proposal.
Based on the discussion from that night, TruRing would pay $300 for the first two years. A re-opener in the agreement was included for the third, fourth and fifth years. Parrish said that would allow for the compensation to the city to be increased if the financial performance of Castlewood turns around, or stay the same if current conditions persist.
Parrish explained the management situation of the golf course, located at 7050 Scandia Trail North. Trudeau will be cutting back his time at Castlewood; he will continue with the Community Education summer youth programs but superintendent Jeremy Walker will be taking on a more active role.
“I’m going to be assisting him,” Trudeau said in an telephone interview last week. He is vacationing in Florida and was not in attendance for the council’s workshop and subsequent meeting.
Trudeau said his plan since hiring Walker for support at the golf course has been to hand over the reigns to him at some point. That transition is coming about as Trudeau – former Forest Lake Police Chief and Washington County Sheriff – is having health issues.
“I charged him [Walker] $1 for the business,” Trudeau said.
He says that Castlewood has a special place in his heart; Trudeau’s grandfather was the original owner from 1934 to 1949.
“We’ve tried to make it family-friendly,” he said.
Castlewood is a regulation 9-hole, par 36 golf course. There is a membership discount of $50 if you reside in the Forest Lake area.