NAUGATUCK — Days after Bob Clark became the resident pro at Hop Brook Golf Course in May, he got an alarming morning phone call.
The brake had slipped on an unoccupied golf cart parked near the fifth hole. The renegade cart had rolled across the fairway, avoiding golfers teeing off, and into a brook.
“I thought it was an initiation,” Clark said. “I thought I was being hazed.”
Clark told the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, during its August meeting, that the golf course desperately needs new carts.
Of the golf course’s 38 carts, six are broken beyond repair and many others are not in good shape, Clark said. Only 18 of the carts are covered by a service contract. Some of the borough’s carts date back to the 1990s and manufacturers do not make replacement parts for carts that are more than 6 years old, Clark said.
Each cart gets taken out at least once a day, and on busy weekend days or Thursday afternoons when three leagues play back to back, a line forms for carts.
“People have waited at least 40 minutes,” Clark said Thursday.
Clark said he worries the cart shortage could deter golfers from playing more rounds while the course is struggling to come out of the red. For the past two calendar years, the course has run a deficit of at least $60,000.
Higher fees and the March Madness special contributed to a strong season so far, but some golfers think, “If I’m out on a Sunday afternoon and I want a cart, and it’s going to be 30 to 40 minutes, I’m going to take my business elsewhere,” Clark said.
The municipally-owned golf course is getting three new golf carts this year at a total cost of at least $13,000, Clark said. The borough could lease 23 new carts over six years for about $14,000 per year, including a service contract, Clark said.
Under Clark’s plan, the borough would trade in all 20 of its older Yamaha carts that do not have service contracts, earning $16,000 toward the new carts.
“The first year, we would pay nothing,” Clark said.
The carts would come from Georgia-based E-Z-Go, which employs two mechanics in the area, one of whom lives in the borough, Clark said.
The borough board encouraged Clark to bring the matter before the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses early next year, while the budget for next fiscal year is being decided. The borough would have to put a new fleet out to bid, Mayor Robert Mezzo said.
“I think Bob just wanted to bring the concept to us,” Mezzo said. “He’s doing a good job as the new pro, which we haven’t had in a long time there.”