Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) With its Larchmont Golf Course contract set to expire, Missoula County plans to bring in a team of experts to review the course and recommend alternative operating models.

Missoula County on Thursday approved a $19,000 contract with National Golf Foundation Consulting, based in Florida. The firm specializes in municipal courses like Larchmont and will review the course's facilities, condition and marketing, among other things.

It will also look at the course's revenue model and suggest ways for growth, according to county planning director Chet Crowser.

“We've had a group of county staff pull together to look at the transition of Larchmont, knowing our existing contract will expire at the end of this calendar year,” Crowser said. “This will continue those evaluations for the county to consider as options moving forward.”

Larchmont is an 18-hole championship course currently under the purview of Missoula County. The course logged around 45,000 rounds of golf during the 2022 season and generated around $1.2 million in revenue, representing an increase of more than $100,000 over the prior year.

While the course remains popular with golfers, it became the source of controversy in 2021 when a team of Missoula developers proposed to redevelop the course into housing, medical and office space. In exchange, they offered to build another course nearby.

The county denied the request and directed staff to catalog other county land holdings. It also suggested it would review the operating structure and perhaps divest public ownership of the facility.

National Golf Foundation Consultants are expected to visit the course this summer before offering recommendations.

“They'll help evaluate pros and cons as we move forward and consider our options to determine our needs at Larchmont,” said Crowser. “They'll be able to see the course in operation and work with staff to get input, as well as with the Larchmont Advisory Board.”