Thursday, February 16, 2017

Guest View-Mike Zinkin: Proper Golf Course Utilization

One does not need to be an expert in golf course management to understand that a tee time that goes unfulfilled is lost revenue. So let's look at the golf course utilization at the Oro Valley Town-owned golf courses. For the purpose of illustration, we will not count the 9-hole course at Pusch Ridge.

Golf courses schedule a foursome to begin every eight minutes. This equates to 7 foursomes, or 28 golfers an hour. During the winter, it is not unreasonable to start your first tee time at 7:30 AM and continue for 7 hours until 2:30 PM. During those 7 hours, a golf course can provide play for 196 golfers (28 golfers an hour x 7 hours). With Oro Valley having two 18-hole courses, the Town can accommodate 56 golfers an hour or 392 golfers a day (392 rounds of golf).

The winter of our discontent
Taking the month of November with 30 days, if the courses were 100% utilized, the Town would have provided golf for 11,760 rounds. In actuality, in November 2016 Oro Valley golf courses had 4,013 rounds of golf played, of which 467 rounds were complimentary. This means that two Oro Valley 18-hole golf courses were utilized only 34% of the available time (this includes member, non-member, and complimentary play). This is during the high season.

There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
During the summer months, golf is available from 5:30 AM - 4:30 PM. During these eleven hours of play, there are 616 rounds of available play (56 golfers an hour x 11 available hours). With 31 days in July, there are 19,096 rounds of golf available in July. However, in July 2016, Oro Valley’s two courses provided for only 2,093 rounds, including 102 complimentary rounds. This means that the Town's golf courses were utilized just 10.97% of the time.

It’s Elementary
One does not need to hire a consultant to understand that if your courses are not utilized anywhere from 66% - 89% of the time, they are not going to make money. No sales tax revenue, membership revenue, or any other existing revenue is going to make up for this deficiency. Golf is not working in Oro Valley and it’s time to cut our losses and move on. The council recently requested a Feasibility Study. It appears that they have finally given up on their 5-year plan and are now looking for a way to save face.

Here’s an idea
Besides the four options that the town enumerated in their Request for Proposal, the options below should also be considered:
  1. The Town can close or lease the Overlook Restaurant.
  2. The Town can GIVE UP GOLF entirely and close the 9-hole Pusch Ridge course and the 18-hole Conquistador course.
  3. The Town can also taking advantage of a clause in the purchase agreement which allows the Town to lease the Canada course (18 holes on east side of LaCanada) back to the El Conquistador Resort for $10,000 per year for 50 years.
The Resort can choose not to lease it, in which case they would lose their Resort status. In that instance, the Town would return the five holes south of Lambert Lane to The Villages of Canada Hills HOA and ask the People what they desire to do with the remaining 18 holes on the Conquistador course, the 9 holes on the Pusch Ridge course, and the remaining 13 holes on the Canada course.
Mike Zinkin is a long-time Oro Valley resident. Mike is also a golfer. Mike was in an Valley Council member from 2012 through 2016. He has been following the community center/golf situation closely from its inception. He has consistently argued  for ways to rationalize Oro Valley's operations of these golf courses. His pleas  for action were ignored by the Council majority until after Mike left office in November. Then, suddenly, the Council decided that they needed to study what is, now they admit, a very serious problem.