Henrico to explore options for Belmont Golf Course

belmont golf course sign

The course opened in 1916 as part of Hermitage Country Club. (Michael Schwartz)

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.

belmont golf course

Belmont averages about 27,500 rounds of golf annually. (Kieran McQuilkin)

belmont golf course sign

The course opened in 1916 as part of Hermitage Country Club. (Michael Schwartz)

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.

belmont golf course

Belmont averages about 27,500 rounds of golf annually. (Kieran McQuilkin)

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Brian Ezzelle
Brian Ezzelle
4 years ago

Convert to a mountain bike / cyclocross venue.

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
4 years ago

If the course lost $30,000 in 2016 and lost$176,000 in 2017 then would one not say:

“That was up from a loss of $30,000 in 2016, when 28,000 rounds were played.”

Not down. Loss that goes down I thought meant the business was doing better. This loss between fiscal years increase by over $140,000.

Bert Clark
Bert Clark
4 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dodson

I suspect that play was down in 2017 and 2018 because of the creek renovation project. The back-9 was closed in the winter of 2017 and the front-9 was closed in the winter of 2018. Some golfers, including myself, just opted to play an 18-hole round elsewhere during construction.

Mary Beth Henry
Mary Beth Henry
4 years ago

If they decide to repurpose the space, I hope the county will consider the lack of nearby county parks in this area and make it a green space with trails, etc.

William Sparrow
William Sparrow
4 years ago

Well, that would reverse the losses

Scott Moffett
Scott Moffett
4 years ago

Maybe if they had someone running the golf course who knew something about golf…

Stephen Broadway
Stephen Broadway
4 years ago

They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on environmental creek restorations that are not sustainable. They continue to cut down trees that are viable. They fired workers that were paid less but given free rounds of golf for much higher paid grounds crew that do not get free golf. They have closed down 9 holes for the past two winters. They do not have a 9 hole rate for kids or Seniors or those too busy to play 18. Yet, when the County or the Police and Firemen or other such municipal entities have a tournament, it suddenly becomes… Read more »

David Bruce
David Bruce
4 years ago

Would be a shame to see this historic course closed. Home to one of golf’s majors in 1949, the PGA Championship won by Virginian Sam Snead and designed by famous architect AW Tillinghast. As an observer I see the lack of business as a marketing failure by the county. No doubt with some innovative and engaging marketing and community support/sponsorship Belmont could be a huge community success.

Here are a couple examples of how old municipal courses (community gems) on the brink of closure are are being saved…

http://www.savemuny.com

https://www.goathillpark.com

Enjoy!

Bob Woodrick
Bob Woodrick
4 years ago
Reply to  David Bruce

Agree. Marketing and offerings are the keys. Fun course, need nine hole and senior rates. Great convenient location. Also, membership option would be nice. Will miss it if it goes away. Doesn’t need to.