Aspen reviewing bids for golf school

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

The Aspen Golf Club is considering bids for a new golf school, following three years with Florida-based Rabito Golf.

Parks manager Jeff Woods said the golf board, along with head golf professional David DiMartino, is reviewing bids while also considering the possibility of Rabito returning. DiMartino said companies from Arizona, Florida and Mexico have shown interest, and a decision is expected before March 1.

Woods said the first two years under Rabito were strong, with instructors regularly booked from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week. But with a different instructor in Aspen each year, consistency has been lacking, and interest has tapered off, Woods said.

“Last year, we had a teaching pro who, while very good, just didn’t seem to have the same connection with our community,” he said.

Hourly rates under Rabito ranged from $125 an hour for locals to $165 for visitors. Woods said that if they do replace Rabito, rates will not change much, if at all. He noted that the board is looking for instructors who will maintain a presence on the driving range, offering minor tips and engaging golfers.

“We’re looking for someone who can offer reasonably priced clinics and have a personality where the public enjoys stopping by,” he said.

DiMartino said the bidding process is nothing personal against owner Carl Rabito or his philosophy in teaching golf.

“I just thought it was in our best interest to see what’s out there,” DiMartino said. “Carl certainly has the right or ability as anyone else out there … to submit a (bid).”

In 2011, the golf board reviewed about 15 bids before narrowing the search to three and opting for Rabito. In its search, Woods said the board will be looking for someone who employs the latest technology in golf instruction while also offering the right personality for Aspen.

“We’ll interview the companies or persons who have the best skills we’re looking for,” Woods said.

DiMartino said golf is similar to skiing in the fact that people like to see the same instructors from year to year. He attributed the pro shop’s success to a consistent staff that provides a level of service that people have come to know and expect.

The board will hold a conference call with prospective candidates in the coming weeks and will follow up with interviews in February.