Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Editorial: When are golf course renovations worthwhile?

Richard Singer, Director of Consulting Services for the National Golf Foundation, is one of the consultants the Town has hired to help them decide what course of action to take with the golf courses and restaurant at the Oro Valley Community Center.

Mr. Singer authors a blog called “Golf Operations Guru” for which he wrote the following article that appeared in March 2014. We quote directly from his posting entitled:

“Municipal Golf Course Renovations – Often Worthwhile, but be Careful”

Singer lists seven conditions that lead to successful municipal golf course renovation:

  • Broadens the appeal of the golf course
  • Is supported by existing regular players
  • Does not lead to drastic fee increases
  • Includes re-branding when there is a major upgrade
  • Includes appropriate clubhouse amenities to match the golf experience
  • Is a strong fit with the surrounding neighborhood
  • Includes expanded and upgraded practice amenities (range, chipping, putting)

Singer lists six conditions that cause municipal golf course renovations to struggle:

  • Leads to a high level of new debt or bond issue tied to the golf course
  • Is opposed by existing regular players
  • Leads to large fee increases
  • Relies on outside, or infrequent golfers for support
  • Changes the basic character of the property so it no longer reflects the neighborhood
  • Goes too far with expanded clubhouse amenities (banquets, lockers, restaurant)

Mr. Singer offers the following conclusion:

“In short, I can say that there are many municipally-owned golf courses out there that would benefit from improvements to facilities; both golf course and clubhouse. Thus, I think my message here is to be careful and have a good plan upfront. Upgrades can benefit the golf course and the municipality, but should not be completed 'at any cost' and there should be an established ceiling to the proposed investment.”

You can read more articles on Mr. Singer’s blog by CLICKING HERE.

The question for Oro Valley
Is our Community Center golf course a municipal golf course or a private golf course? A municipal golf course does not have a free driving range. A municipal golf course does not give discounts to members. If the Community Center golf course is a municipal golf course, then the Oro Valley golf model must change. The current model did not work during the Sheraton-owned years or the Hilton-owned years any more than it’s working now.

As a full-service community, we cannot continue to have this drain on our resources.

Without this financial drain, we would have had the money for the Naranja Park ball fields without the need for a secondary property tax. If this financial drain continues, the money currently spent on pavement preservation, public safety, employee raises and benefits, etc. will have to be modified…or your taxes will have to be raised again.