Thursday, June 22, 2017

Editorial ~ Is money really saved by closing 27 holes of golf?

How much are we saving by closing the golf courses when it means that we’re also shutting down the revenue stream?

As some of you know, the Town has once again closed 27 holes of YOUR community-owned golf courses. Last year the Town closed the Conquistador and the Pusch Ridge Courses. This year they have closed the Canada and Pusch Ridge courses. It is readily apparent that by closing the courses, the income stream from outside play (non-members) is completely shut off.

Prime Time
As for the one course that is available, the members get the "prime" tee times. As you can well imagine, the best summer tee times are before 9:00 AM. This allows one to play a round and be off the course before the temperature gets too hot. A recent look at the “Golf Now” site shows that one cannot get a tee time at the Community Center before 9:20 AM. With courses like The Views, Crooked Tree, and Rancho Vistoso within a very short commute, why would a non-member choose to start play at 9:20 at our golf courses when there are earlier tees time available at comparable prices at other courses?

The need to cut expenses
Since the revenue stream is terminated, one would think that a responsible manager would also cut the expenses. We only have the numbers for FY 15/16 to compare. (FY 16/17 does not end until June 30 and the Town does not release the end-of-year numbers until the Council returns from its summer break in September.)

Expenses were higher when the courses were closed
During the months July-September 2015, when two of the courses were CLOSED, the Troon payroll averaged $183,083 per month. The utilities (including water) averaged $137,580 per month. The total operating expenses averaged $323,703 per month (payroll, employee benefits, professional fees, advertising, marketing, etc.)

During the months November 2015-March 2016, which is the prime season and the courses were OPEN, the Troon payroll averaged $133,540 per month. The utilities averaged $62,297 per month. The total operating expenses averaged $229,509 per month.

Why was Troon’s payroll an average of $50,000 higher per month during the three months that two of the courses were closed? Why were their operating expenses an average of $75,000 higher per month? Is it because the prime tee times were reserved for members so there was no additional revenue stream from outside (non-member) play?

Net losses were lower when the courses were open
The net loss (expenses minus revenues) when the courses were closed averaged $383,310 per month, while the net loss during the prime time was $97,875 per month.

Are the net losses lower during prime time because there is an additional income stream on the course that the members don’t play? If yes, this supports the argument to eliminate the member/private scenario and make the courses truly public.

In essence, we’re subsidizing two closed golf courses and one Members-Only course
Is there really any savings made by closing the two courses? We all know that this golf venture is a drain on Oro Valley, but it appears that closing 27 holes of golf, and giving the members priority tee times for the one remaining course, only serves to compound the losses, your losses.

These numbers come from the Town's end of Fiscal Year 2015/16 numbers. If anyone should desire a copy of these numbers, please email: and they will be provided.