Hoping that they have finally found a solution to the long-term problem of the city-owned Pheasant Trails Golf Course, the Dumas City Commissioners voted unanimously Monday in their regular meeting to approve a five-year lease agreement with Cory Beckner, president of Twisted Elms Golf Club, LLC of Dalhart to manage the Dumas facility. As part of the agreement, Beckner will open and operate a restaurant at the course that serves alcoholic beverages.
Beckner has been managing the course since late June under a temporary contract while negotiations over the long-term deal with the city continued. Former manager Rick Avila's contract expired at the end of that month and was not renewed. Mayor Bob Brinkmann and the commissioners signaled their intention to move in a different direction with the course back in February when Beckner, at the request of Brinkmann, submitted a proposal to take over management of the Dumas facility.
The commissioners solicited other proposals in March and received two more in addition to Beckner's. In June, the commissioners voted three to two to choose Beckner's proposal for further negotiations. Commissioners Justin Willis and Ben Maples voted no.
Pheasant Trails has been a problem for years since the city bought the former North Plains Country Club and turned it into a city course. No restaurant has been successful over the long-term, and the city has to pay an annual subsidy of over $200,000 to keep the course operating.
Both Brinkmann and the commissioners say having a course in Dumas is important for the quality of life and important in attracting businesses, and they add that the city already has a considerable investment in the facility. But in an era of increasing demands on city resources, they say they need to find a way to reduce the endless subsidies.
Beckner and his associates took over the former Dalhart Country Club several years ago, put in a restaurant, and turned the venture into a successful business. He says he can do the same in Dumas. In voting to pursue negotiations with Beckner, Brinkmann said he thought the proposal was the best chance he had seen of ending the subsidies and possibly having the course become profitable.
Taxpayers will be on the hook initially for some facility upgrades. According to Dumas City Manager Arbie Taylor, the city has budgeted $200,000 for the upcoming fiscal year to do work on the septic system and kitchen.
The new lease takes effect October 1.