A round of renovations to a county-owned golf course in Henrico is off the table for now, as the Board of Supervisors ponders bringing in a third party to manage the property or repurposing its acreage.
At their annual retreat in January, supervisors discussed options to have Belmont Golf Course be leased to an outside operator for day-to-day management or finding other recreational uses for its 125 acres, which sit on Hilliard Road near the intersection of Brook Road.
The decision comes after years of losses at the daily-fee course, which opened in 1916 as part of Hermitage Country Club and become county-owned in the 1970s.
Neil Luther, director of Henrico’s Recreation and Parks Department, which oversees operations of Belmont, said the county is in the early stages of laying out mechanisms for those two options, but there’s not yet a timeline for the process.
He said that process would entail soliciting outside proposals from golf-course operators and going through a masterplan process for new park uses. Public notices would be put out for each route.
The course will remain open in the interim and the supervisor’s decision means the county won’t move forward with $300,000 worth of renovations that had been planned for Belmont’s bunkers.
Those plans caused a minor stir last year when a group of local golfers and self-described golf course architecture nerds raised concerns that the bunker re-do would further bury the designs of Belmont’s original architect, A.W. Tillinghast, an icon of golf-course design whose creations include Cedar Crest Park in Dallas, San Francisco Golf Club, and Quaker Ridge Golf Club and Bethpage Black in New York.
Luther said Belmont has been operating at a cash loss most years since 2000. The course lost $176,000 in fiscal year 2017, after 24,000 rounds played, according to figures from the county. That was down from a loss of $30,000 in 2016, when 28,000 rounds were played.
Luther said Belmont’s peak was in the 1990s, when it had 50,000 rounds annually.