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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Fuel prices, delivery charges eating into bottom line

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Not all heroes wear capes.

Throughout his career as a superintendent, Rick Tegtmeier has ordered enough gasoline and diesel to last through the next golf season. Locking in a season's worth of fuel at a locked-in price protects the golf course from potential shortages and price volatility.

There likely have been many years that his decision to buy fuel at a locked in price has gone unnoticed. This is not one of those years, as Tegtmeier's decision to buy a season's worth of fuel will help keep the budget in line this year at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.

During the winter offseason, Tegtmeier contracted 7,500 gallons of gasoline at $3.25 per gallon and 9,000 gallons of diesel at $2.90.

"I did this back in December and January. I look like a hero right now," Tegtmeier said. "But come budget time next year, this is going to kill us."

The average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline on June 16 was $5.01 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. That's an increase of 63 percent from a year ago. Diesel is even higher at $5.76, an increase of 80 percent from a year ago when the average price was $2.58 a gallon. Given those numbers, it is no surprise that 60 percent of Americans say pain at the pump is affecting their summer travel plans, according to a recent Washington Post poll.

At Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, Stephen Rabideau is paying rack rate for fuel - $4.95 for gasoline and $5.27 for diesel. The added cost has done nothing to curb the enthusiasm of golfers.

"For us the expectations are the same on the course," Rabideau said. "So it's going to cost more."

Al Choiniere at Rocky Ridge in Vermont is in a similar situation, with delivery surcharges on fuel deliveries and just about anything that arrives by truck.

"Gas last fill up was $5.19, and diesel was $6.29. They charge for delivery now too," he said. 

"I am paying a surcharge per pallet delivered based on the price of diesel."

The rising cost of fuel does not discriminate between private clubs and daily fee operations.

Steven Scott had been managing Persimmon Hills Golf Course in Sharon, Tennessee for almost 10 years when he and his wife Tracy bought it two years ago.

They reaped the benefits of Covid-induced golf that resulted in record play of 518 million rounds nationwide last year.
This year, he is paying $5.60 per gallon for gasoline and $5.20 diesel. The increase in the cost of fuel comes right off the bottom line. 

"Right now we are still eating the extra costs of fuel and parts," Scott said. "Any plans for equipment have been put on hold as we've seen more problems with availability than we have with cost.

"And with a significant amount of our play coming from seniors on fixed incomes, we have not increased our pricing as significantly as some other courses have."

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