Three Crowns Golf Course deficit

Robert King, chairman of the management committee of the Three Crowns L.L.C., which has the contract with golf course management company OB Sports, looks out over the first hole Thursday afternoon in Casper, Wyo. The golf course has never turned a profit, and King expects it to run a $448,000 deficit this year.

CASPER, Wyo. — The Three Crowns Golf Course on the former Amoco refinery site in Casper lost more than $500,000 last year and is projected to lose $448,000 this year, the head of the club's management committee said Thursday.

“The original business model we had, before reality set in, was to break even,” Bob King said.

“The goal was that we would be a destination golf course,” King said from his office overlooking the 18-hole course. “That hasn't materialized.”

Slow development on the site and the recession haven't helped, either.

Even so, King pledged closer oversight when he presented Three Crowns' new budget last week to the Amoco Reuse Agreement Joint Powers Board, which has raised questions about the most visible improvement on the site where the refinery shut down in 1991.

Three Crowns, which is owned by the joint powers board and operated by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based OB Sports, will generate about $1.2 million from the 16,582 rounds played, the pro shop, the restaurant, and other facilities in the current fiscal year ending March 31, King told the board.

But it will post a loss of $506,000, he said, and he projected it would run a $448,000 deficit in the next fiscal year — though he added he wasn't an accountant.

Board member Phil Schmidt responded that he was in fact an accountant and the profits, especially from food and liquor sales, should be higher than King reported.

The club's budget figures did not include depreciation of the course's assets, either, Schmidt said.

Joint powers board Chairman Scott Sissman agreed with Schmidt about the restaurant's potential profits. “That should be a real cash generator,” he said.

King said Three Crowns will raise its course fee by $10 a round, a move that will drive away some customers but will increase revenues.

He also asked the board for $12,000 to buy a new top dresser to maintain the greens and $12,000 to replace half of the greens covers. “They're getting pretty ratty,” he said.

The golf course was among the earliest proposed improvements on the former refinery site, now known as the Platte River Commons, and the board paid $1.25 million for development of the first nine holes. Amoco's successor company, BP, paid for the other nine holes.

The board also has advanced about $3 million to Three Crowns to cover operating deficits since the course opened in June 2005.

That money comes from the joint powers board's building and facilities fund, said the board's executive director, Alice Kraft.

The fund has about $6.5 million now, and the board will receive $4 million from BP in August, Kraft said. This payment will complete the $20 million BP pledged for building improvements, and that money must last the remaining 90 years of the lease between the company and the city and county.

King admits subsidies from this fund to Three Crowns take away money that could be used for other developments on the Commons and the Salt Creek Heights business park.

The joint powers board, composed of appointees from the Natrona County Commission and the city of Casper, created Three Crowns LLC, and it is the limited liability company's only member. King heads Three Crowns LLC's seven-member management committee, which negotiated the contract with OB Sports.

That contract, King said, requires OB Sports to maintain a first-class course, clubhouse, restaurant and other amenities.

Chris Moore, OB Sports general manager at Three Crowns, said that classification means maintaining excellent course conditions, superior service and good presentation by the approximately 50 employees during the peak golfing season.

King's management committee develops Three Crowns' budget with OB Sports.

The committee doesn't want to micromanage Three Crowns, but King believes it should pay better attention to the bottom line.

“The management committee has not provided, in my opinion, oversight of the operations,” he said. “We've been more hands-off.”

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