A handful of parties have thrown their hats in the ring to potentially take over day-to-day operations of the county-owned Belmont Golf Course in Henrico.
The county said last week it received five submissions to a “request for information” it put out in early May, seeking ideas from outside companies to operate and maintain the century-old course and its 125 acres at 1600 Hilliard Road near the intersection of Brook Road.
The county would not identify those that submitted nor their suggestions.
The deadline for submissions was June 15. The county said it will review the submissions with various county departments in the next several weeks to decide how to proceed.
The RFI – different from a usual request for proposals – allows the county to field ideas to consider before making a more concrete decision.
Henrico previously said it was pondering options for leasing the course to an outside operator or finding other recreational uses for Belmont’s 125 acres,
Those ideas were born at a county leadership retreat this year and follow years of losses at the public daily-fee course, which opened in 1916 as part of Hermitage Country Club and become county-owned in the 1970s.
County leadership determined that the “direct operation of a daily-fee public golf course is not a desired core function of local government,” the RFI documents stated.
The document states the county desires to maintain ownership of the property and is looking for a long-term lease with an operator, along with other “creative” ideas.
“The county is also open to other options for the best operation of Belmont, including creative approaches to management of the facilities, changes in the services offered at Belmont, or hybrid solutions.”
The county said the course lost $176,000 in fiscal year 2017, with 24,000 rounds played. The latter category has declined each year since 2013, when it hosted 32,500 rounds.
It cost just under $1 million to run the course last fiscal year and the county previously said Belmont has lost money most years since 2000.
The course’s peak was in the 1990s, when it had around 50,000 rounds annually.
The RFI process is playing out while a small group of golf course architecture enthusiasts has urged the county in recent months to consider restoring Belmont’s layout to capitalize on its ties to its original designer, renowned course architect A.W. Tillinghast.