If you’re a golfer or follow the sport, you likely know that in general, golf’s popularity is declining. Fortunately, here in Marysville, we’re seeing a different story. The city’s long-term management strategy for Cedarcrest Golf Course is paying off handsomely.
The national story is a very challenging one. More than 800 golf courses have closed within the last decade. Between 2002 and 2016, the number of regular golfers declined by 30 percent, falling from 30 million to 21 million. As the previous generation of golfers ages, their children and grandchildren generally aren’t replacing them on the course.
The number of golf courses began shrinking in the early 2000s and was exacerbated by the Great Recession later that decade. In 2012, 155 golf courses closed in the United States while only 13 new ones opened.
Here’s where Marysville’s course bucked the trend. Cedarcrest was developed by the Quast family in 1927. This picturesque 3-star course designed by golf architect John Steidel offers something for golfers of all skill levels and has been a popular asset to our community for nearly a century.
In 1971, the City of Marysville purchased the 104-acre Cedarcrest Golf Course; grant funds used to help buy the property stipulate that it can only be used for public recreational purposes. In 1980 the city bought an additional 12.5 acres to improve the east side of the course.
Over the years Cedarcrest faced declining numbers and significant maintenance demands. This posed a predicament for the city. Beginning in the late 1980s, city leadership developed and implemented a long-range plan to restore the golf course and its profitability.
This involved investing in course improvements over several years. In 1988 a new maintenance building was constructed. Major upgrades in 1996-1997 included renovation of fairways, greens and tees plus draining, irrigation and cart path construction. In 2010, 52 sand bunkers were added to guard the greens and, most recently this year, we added additional course drainage and pavement and landscaping outside of Bleachers.
It’s important to note that revenues collected from greens fees, rentals/leases and cart fees pay for all operational expenses and debt service on major improvements. Existing debt on golf course improvements will be paid off this year, putting our course in a healthy financial position.
Since 2015, the city has contracted with Premier Golf Centers to operate Cedarcrest. The leading golf course management services company for municipalities in the Northwest, Premier currently manages 11 courses in seven cities including Marysville. Premier has increased course maintenance and restored the health of the greens. They also introduced new programs to attract and retain golfers including online tee-time reservations and reduced rates in off hours. According to Premier’s Shayne Day, former Cedarcrest golf pro, “the local passion is back and we believe will stick around for a long time.” We appreciate the entire Premier team.
Another attraction at Cedarcrest is Bleachers Grill, a full-service restaurant and attractive Marysville dining option whether you golf or not. Owner/manager Jeff Darrah adapts his menu with something for everyone. In good weather, the patio dining with a view is wonderful.
All of these improvements started Cedarcrest’s economic turnaround. Still, no one could have predicted what 2020 would mean for golf. When the COVID pandemic shut down most recreational activities, golf experienced a great increase in demand. After being closed for 43 days in spring 2020, Cedarcrest reopened to record numbers that were sustained throughout the balance of the season. The result was a banner year with nearly 48,000 rounds of golf played and a 22% increase in revenue over 2019.
This year is also trending very well. Great weather in August spurred 7,522 rounds of golf. Annual revenue to date is 61% ahead of budget and is on track to substantially surpass last year’s record number.
I’m proud of our city’s long-term strategy that maintained Cedarcrest Golf Course, the oldest publicly owned golf course in Snohomish County and one of the oldest in the state, as a beautiful community asset for residents and visitors.
Jon Nehring has been Mayor of Marysville since 2010. You can reach him at 360-363-8000 or email@example.com.