City of Altus bails out Elks Lodge golf course

Altus_The City of Altus has bailed out a struggling Elks Lodge and golf course after the city council voted to buy the course for $225,000 in a special session last Friday.  Mayor T.L. Gramling says the city would like to make improvements to the facilities in the future, but currently only are interested in ensuring that it does not close.

Gramling says the Elks told the council that the organization was going to abandon the lodge because of low membership and lack of funds.  However, Gramling and the council said Altus needs the club because it's a benevolent organization.  Councilmember Bob Beers belongs to the Elks, and says every town needs a golf course and a place where families can gather.  He and Gramling say that one of their biggest concerns is folks leaving town for a couple of rounds of golf.

While change is underway, there had been real concern that it would close for good if the City of Altus didn't intervene.  Gramling says the city needs the business, and while he doesn't think the course will turn a profit, he says he believes that if people stay in Altus to play golf it will keep their money in town.

Gramling says the action taken to keep the course from going under is not unusual.  "Most all golf courses are supplemented by the city's revenue," he said.  Beers agrees:  "We've got to keep them from going out of town to play golf," he said.  "We lose people to Mangum and the lake and, of course, the air base gets some of them."  Gramling says residents were receptive to the idea of the city purchasing the club.  "All I heard over the weekend: they were pleased we purchased it to keep it from closing."

Beers says Altus has no plans to let the course just sit idle, either.  "We're hoping that when you open it to the public it'll get more play," he said.  Currently the course is closed until the city can make a few changes, and Beers says there also are long-term goals.  "We're gonna make plans," he said.  "We're talking about lighting the driving range, and in time putting a Putt-Putt course out there."

Beers says they brought in a golf pro who designs courses to suggest improvements or changes that could be made to the course.  He says he hopes to boost membership and awareness about the Elks Club.  No word on how long the course will remain closed.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.