AFTER keeping the same schedule for 60 years, Seymour Golf and Country Club is looking for council approval to eliminate public play by 2016 in a bid to reverse the economic downswing facing golf courses.
Currently, members of the public have exclusive rights to the District of North Vancouver-owned course on Mondays and Fridays.
The potential switch has raised the ire of at least one linksman, former North Shore resident Richard Simpson.
"I play Seymour often on the public days and feel that it is not right that golfers from other municipalities will be denied access to a course they have enjoyed for over 50 years," he wrote in a letter to the North Shore News.
The transition involves introducing the Seymour PlayCard, which would be limited to district residents and provide the only avenue for non-members to book a tee time at Seymour by 2016. Golfers without a PlayCard could still hit balls and fudge scoresheets as a guest of a cardholder on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays.
"There's more rounds per week," said Greg Hope, president of Seymour golf course. "To be honest, this is kind of a no-brainer."
With health and mobility taking putters out of the hands of many club members, Seymour has resorted to an unsustainable financial model, according to Hope.
As new member initiation fees have dropped, annual monthly dues have grown.
"Obviously, you can't keep asking people for more money on a monthly basis," Hope said.
On average, the club loses about 50 members each year. In 2012, the club recruited 53 new members and lost 56.
"We can definitely make Seymour more attractive to people who want private golf and are willing to pay for that," Hope said.
After 19 months of work with district staff and council, Hope is optimistic council will make a decision before the club commences with this year's membership drive. "I find it a little bit surprising that council and staff need to take as much time as energy on moving around some tee times at a golf course," Hope said.
"It's going to support and improve both Northlands and Seymour," said Coun. Robin Hicks, discussing the idea last November.
The changes will benefit the financial performance of neighbouring Northlands Golf Course, according to Gavin Joyce, the district's general manager of engineering.
"I do see that Northlands and Seymour seem to be competing against each other. That has to be resolved," said Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn.
Public green fees at Seymour have dipped by 13 per cent over the last decade. Northlands has seen an 18 per cent drop in the number of public rounds.
Seymour's 1953 lease with the district established Mondays and Fridays for public play.
Despite that longstanding schedule, 85 per cent of club members approved the changes and only 1 per cent objected, according to a recent survey of Seymour's members. Members of the public without a card would still be able to golf on Mondays until 2015, but by 2016 there would be no public play at Seymour. PlayCard members would be limited to booking six tee times a year.