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Springfield Park District Considers Privatizing Golf Courses

Updated: Friday, July 4 2014, 12:11 AM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- Wednesday night, the Springfield Park District's maintenance staff tells Newschannel at Nine they're worried about the future of their jobs.

This after district officials met with a private golf management firm.

The four Springfield golf courses, are managed by the park district, but that could change if the district decides to hand over the reigns to Billy Casper Golf, a management firm that promises to grow the number of rounds played, and the amount of revenue earned.

It's late morning, and Bill Dyas is playing a round of golf with his friends at Springfield's Bunn Golf Course.

"I love the game. Love it with these knuckleheads. It's a good time," said Dyas.

What Dyas doesn't love is the idea of privatizing Springfield's four golf courses.

Springfield Park District administrators met with representatives of Billy Casper Golf, a Virginia-based company.

"If there's an opportunity to continue to provide high quality golf courses within the community and a more financially responsible way to do it, that's something certainly worth exploring," said Derek Harms, Executive Director of the Springfield Park District.

Dyas hits the links up to four times per month, and says he doesn't want management of the park district's golf courses handed over to a private company.

"An outside company - they don't know the area, they don't know the people, so I don't know what would change, but you wouldn't get that home feeling," Dyas said.

Even more concerned are the members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 who work as maintenance staff at the district golf courses.

"Our members are not well paid out there. They're great people. They work hard. They save the golf course money every single day. And we have very grave concerns about an outside company coming in, cutting pay, and laying off people," said Roger Griffith, staff representative for AFSCME Council 31.

Griffith says if the private company does take over managing the golf courses, he predicts maintenance would go down and the cost to play would go up.

That is exactly what Dyas fears would happen, too.

"The park district is a friend of ours. We love them. They do a good job. There's no need for a change," said Dyas.

Harms says it's still early to determine whether the park district would benefit from a private company managing its golf courses.

He stresses this is just in the discussion phases, but the district will take a look at the proposal from the company.

It' a big decision for the district, as Harms tells us golf courses are the number one money maker for the district.

Billy Casper golf owns and operates more than 140 courses in 28 states.

Springfield Park District Considers Privatizing Golf Courses

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