City seeks turnaround of troubled golf courses 

The City has sunk about $1.4 million this year into operation of the public golf courses to offset a deficit that will more than double over the next five years.

City officials, however, are examining ways to turn around the Recreation and Park Department’s operation of the six public courses to ensure they no longer drain money from The City’s operating budget, which supports public safety, clean streets, parks and government services. Closure of some of the courses, privatizing operations and boosting the fees are some of the ideas being examined.

Information presented by the Recreation and Park Department painted a bleak picture of the operation of the golf courses: The number of golf rounds played has steadily declined since 2000, cost of doing business has increased beyond projections, and the reopening of the Harding Park Golf Course in 2005 following an $18 million renovation has not created the promised revenue boost.

"We have a dilemma of actually a bleeding golf fund that is demanding money out of the general fund [operating budget]," Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said during Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee hearing on the future of golf courses.

In five years, the deficit is expected to be about $3.5 million, according to Recreation and Park Planning Director Dawn Kamalanathan. "The cost will continue to go up and our revenues will either stagnate or decrease as the course conditions worsen," she said.

Outside of The City’s premier 18-hole Harding Park course and the adjacent nine-hole Fleming Course, the other four courses are in "average to slightly-below average condition," according to Kamalanathan.

The Harding Park course is the biggest drain on the golf system, while the Lincoln course ran at a $191,000 loss this year and Sharp Park at a $112,000 loss. Both Lincoln Park and Sharp Park are being managed with a staff shortfall, otherwise the deficit would have been even greater, according to Kamalanathan.

She said that when the Recreation and Park Commission discusses future operation of the courses at its May 3 meeting, it would consider the closure of the Sharp Park and Lincoln Park courses.

Chloe Good, outreach coordinator with the Neighborhood Parks Council and of the Coalition for Equitable Use of Open Space, advocated for theclosure of at least one course to satisfy the demand of other recreational uses such as soccer or skateboarding. She submitted a petition in support of a closure signed by 1,600 residents. "San Francisco has currently more public golf courses than of any other American cities of its size," Good said. "We believe that one or more public golf courses could be decommissioned and adapted to fill these recreational facilities gap."

The Recreation and Park Commission is expected to submit to the Board of Supervisors recommendations for the future operation of the courses on May 9.

Tags: ,

Pin It

More by Joshua Sabatini

Latest in Government & Politics

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation