Shawnee County is seeing record revenues at its golf courses this year. Here's why.

Shawnee County's government has set a record this year for golf revenue, with one key reason being COVID-19, an official says.

Many new golfers took up the game during the pandemic, when it was among the few activities available. Now, they continue to play, Josh Maike explained Monday to The Capital-Journal.

County golf revenues eclipsed $2 million for the first time this year, county commissioners learned at a work session Monday from Maike, recreation superintendent for Shawnee County Parks and Recreation.

The previous record was $1,805,080, set last year, he told The Capital-Journal.

Other reasons Shawnee County set the record include golf leagues, junior golf, affordable access to its courses and the positive customer experience golfers receive at those courses, Maike said.

Lake Shawnee Golf Course is seeing an increase in rounds played as Shawnee County's government is taking in record golf revenue in 2023.
Lake Shawnee Golf Course is seeing an increase in rounds played as Shawnee County's government is taking in record golf revenue in 2023.

County golf figures are part of a nationwide trend

Maike's assertion that COVID has driven an increasing number of people to play golf is supported by figures from the American Golf Foundation.

It says U.S. golfers set a record for rounds played in 2021, though that total dropped by 3.7% in 2022, a year that brought less good weather for golf.

But 2023 has brought the capital city conditions that have been warmer and much drier than normal, according to the website of the Topeka office of the National Weather Service.

It said the capital city's average temperature this year as of Monday was 61.1 degrees, 2.3 degrees above its average recorded annually by Nov. 13 of 58.8 degrees.

Total precipitation had been 22.86 inches, 11.24 inches less than the annual average of 34.1 recorded by Nov. 13.

Cypress Ridge sees more rounds played than Lake Shawnee

Maike said golfers as of Monday had played 80,376 rounds at the county's Lake Shawnee and Cypress Ridge courses, with that being the county's highest total since 2012, the year city of Topeka and Shawnee County parks and recreation departments merged under county control.

The county's previous top total during that time period was 74,210, recorded last year, Maike said.

The county as of Monday had seen 41,353 rounds played this year at Cypress Ridge, 2533 S.W. Urish Road, and 39,023 rounds at the Lake Shawnee course at 4141 S.E. East Edge Road, he said.

The county also owns Forbes Golf Course, 700 S.W. Capehart Road, but Forbes doesn't figure into its total number of rounds played because it's a nine-hole course, said Mike McLaughlin, communications and public information supervisor for Shawnee County Parks and Recreation.

Cypress Ridge has made comeback

Then-Topeka city manager Norton Bonaparte recommended in 2008 that the city government sell 160 acres it owned, upon which Cypress Ridge is located, to be used as land for residential development.

At the time, the number of rounds played annually at that course, previously known as Topeka Public Golf Course, had fallen steadily from 40,145 in 2003 to 24,808 in 2007.

But the city ended up continuing to use Cypress Ridge as a golf course.

The county then acquired Cypress Ridge as part of the 2012 parks and recreation merger.

Tax dollars don't pay for county golf improvements

The county's golf courses this year received $384,000 in capital improvements, Maike told county commissioners Monday.

"We have put a lot of work into making our courses great assets to the community, and we want to continue to provide a good experience for the customers," he said.

McLaughlin stressed that the improvements were paid for using revolving funds the courses bring in as revenue, and not from county tax dollars.

What improvements have been made this year?

Maike said this year's improvements at the county's golf courses have included the following:

• Rock wall installation on Cypress Ridge’s first tee.

• A new concrete path to a new tee box on the eighth hole at Cypress Ridge.

• Bunker renovations on the fourth and ninth holes at Lake Shawnee.

• Tree removal at both Lake Shawnee and Cypress Ridge.

• Zoysia sod for fairways at Lake Shawnee,

• Topsoil and excavation for tee box improvements.

• Laser leveling of tee boxes.

• The purchase of a new sprayer.

• Irrigation upgrades.

• Carpet installation and clubhouse updates at Lake Shawnee.

• Equipment lease updates.

• Numerous other small projects at both courses.

Contact Tim Hrenchir at threnchir@gannett.com or 785-213-5934.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Shawnee County sees record revenues at its public golf courses