EMU plans $1 million in improvements for Eagle Crest Golf Course
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Eastern Michigan University plans to invest about $1 million to improve the Eagle Crest Golf Course several years after it invested around $2 million to renovate the conference center that is part of the Eagle Crest/Marriott resort.
The university recently turned over management and day-to-day operations of the convention center and golf course to Marriott, though EMU still owns both. Marriott has also recently completed updates to the hotel, which is independent of the university.
The aim of the improvements is to attract more corporate and multi-day events to Eagle Crest.
Ypsilanti Township is leasing the land Eagle Crest golf course sits on to EMU for $1 a year for 99 years.
At its Sept. 10 meeting, the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees approved an addendum to that lease that will simplify the process by which the township approves changes to the land. Any changes to the land must be approved by the township.
The EMU Board of Regents approved the addendum at its Sept. 18 meeting.
In fiscal year 2012, 30,000 people played golf at the Eagle Crest course and it brought in $1.7 million in revenue and $400,000 in profit, said Leigh Greden, EMU’s executive director of government and community relations.
Chief Financial Officer John Lumm said in an April interview that the Eagle Crest resort operated at a $280,000 and $180,000 loss the past two years, respectively. This year, the center is anticipated to lose another $125,000 to $150,000.
Eagle Crest is operated out of an auxiliary fund and its operation at a loss does not directly affect classroom funding, Greden said.
One of the goals in improving Eagle Crest’s golf course is landing it on Marriott.com's golf directory, which features around 80 of what it labels as top golf courses worldwide.
Greden said university officials expect that designation, along with the previous investment in the conference center and improvements to the hotel by Marriott, should further boost interest in Eagle Crest and help increase overall revenues.
"That’s a win for the university, which owns the conference center and golf course, a win for the township because it collects taxes from the hotel and a win for the community because it ensures long-term viability of the entire resort,” Greden said.
He said the university is working with golf course design consultants to explore ways to improve the course. They could add new landscaping, reshape tees, reposition bunkers and increase visibility to the lake.
The increased visibility to the lake was a sore point between the university and township earlier this year when large, old trees were cleared from the course without the township’s permission.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Greden said Marriott.com is interested in Eagle Crest because it winds around Ford Lake in a unique and naturally beautiful environment, it's near an airport, it has a conference center and it has many of the other features of an inclusive golf resort.
The university is planning to complete the improvements to the course during the off-season when golfers aren’t playing but there isn’t any snow. That means the schedule stretches for several years, and holes one, five, six and seven are expected to be renovated before this winter.
“If the improvements are completed, that alone should increase traffic to the golf course,” Greden said.
He said it’s the first time the 22-year old course has had major improvements.
“It should dramatically increase excitement of playing and the beauty of venue," Greden said.