Chamber hired to market golf course

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 12:29 AM

The Public Building Authority has contracted the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce to market the Sevierville Golf Club.

For the marketing services, the PBA will pay the chamber $284,500 through June 2014. That includes $119,500 already budgeted for golf course marketing this fiscal year.

The chamber will create advertising programs, design a marketing plan and manage social media and public relations. A new chamber employee will manage golf club sales.

The PBA board approved the agreement when it met Monday at the golf club.

"We're excited about it," said PBA board member and chamber CEO Brenda McCroskey at the meeting. "It will take additional work, but it's a natural fit with everything else we're involved with in the city." McCroskey abstained from voting on the agreement.

Board chairman Joe Tarwater remarked that the amount seemed high, especially for a municipal course. "It shocked me when I saw it," he said.

Sevierville City Administrator Russell Treadway said the Sevierville facility should not be compared to a municipal course. "We're a golf resort," he said. The marketing efforts target visitors, not locals, Treadway noted.

The outlay includes money originally budgeted for a golf course employee who would have handled marketing. Treadway noted that in negotiating the agreement with the chamber, the city considered the cost of the employee's benefits. "The chamber can do more with less," he said.

Chamber marketing director Amanda Marr described golf-club efforts already under way, including ads in Sports Destination Management, a trade publication.

Separately, the board heard from Sevierville public works director Bryon Fortner on recent weather damage at the golf course. A damaged island hole will take "probably six figures or so to repair, by the time it's all said and done, to make sure it's repaired and will stay there and not erode away," Fortner said.

The hole is on the golf club's River course, which is closed. "We're going to get it open as quickly as possible," Fortner said.

The damage is mostly not covered by insurance, Fortner said. There is a slim chance that FEMA money could cover the costs, he added.

The PBA board authorized up to $50,000 for the Knoxville engineering firm S&ME, which will estimate the cost of repairs to the hole.

The board also approved:

- $185,810 for construction of a parking lot at Bruce Street and Court Avenue, downtown

- The design of a gazebo at the parking lot

- Several items related to a forthcoming sign for the golf club and the Sevierville Convention Center

- Golf club rates for 2013

- Allowing golf director Mark Wallace to negotiate rates for special events and offers

kburns@themountainpress.com